VFW Post 294 celebrates reaching a milestone
JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Andy Sterner, Post adjutant, left, and John Howard, Post vice commander, right, congratulate Post Commander Gerald Harbin, center, on his "Certificate of Recognition."
VFW Post 294 meets on the first Tuesday of the month at the clubhouse at Holiday Pocono in Albrightsville. According to Post Commander Gerald Harbin they are a fairly small post, with seven to 10 active members who attend regularly.
But don't let the numbers fool you. The Penn Kidder Post carries a lot of weight. Every two months members of the Post visit local businesses, collecting items to make care packages for the troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Items such as sunscreen, shampoo, lip balm and microwave popcorn are a big hit. But they also collect silly string (to help locate bomb wires), Beanie Babies (to set off road side bombs) and balloons (to cover gun barrels to keep sand out).
Last month VFW Post 294 reached a milestone with its 27th shipments of goods for soldiers serving overseas.
"In just over four years we have shipped more than 14,000 pounds of comfort packages to Iraq and Afghanistan. The shipment on April 10 was 33 boxes weighing 688 pounds, the largest shipment we have ever made," said Post Adjutant Andy Sterner.
In honor of the occasion, the Post decided to take the time to recognize some people to whom they are grateful for their hard work and "above and beyond" attitude.
Receiving recognition for their assistance were Mount Pocono Postmaster Benito Juarez and Postal Customer Service Clerk Irene Rodriguez.
"This women is an angel, I don't know what we would do without her," Sterner said of Rodriguez. "She comes in two hours early just so I can make the shipment on time, and whatever Irene can't carry, Benito is there to help out. I don't know what we'd do without their help."
Juarez and Rodriguez were both awarded plaques for "Meritorious and Distinguished Service in furthering the aims and ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States of America."
"It has been a pleasure and an honor to help you," said Juarez. "I want to thank you for the recognition and to thank the soldiers for what they do, not only for us in America, but for what they do around the world as well."
In addition, Post Commander Harbin was honored with a Certificate of Recognition for "outstanding service to the department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars" and "for exemplary service and assistance" over the past 20 years.
"What these fraternal organizations do is important. Most people don't realize the hard work that goes into these drives. It's our job to support the troops, and Post 294 goes above and beyond," said Hank Desrosiers, director of Carbon County Veterans Affairs office.
The Post is already hard at work getting ready for the next shipment, which is scheduled for July 3.
"We will be back here packing boxes on the evening of July 2. Everyone is welcome to come to the clubhouse at Holiday Pocono that evening and help us. But if you come, be prepared because we will put you to work," said Sterner.