When city firefighter Toby Archer approached fire chief Joe Bennett Thursday morning about doing something for American service people stationed overseas, Bennett was quick to comply.
The kickoff for Brazil Fire Department and Local 1453 of the International Association of Firefighters operation "Armed Services Patriot Packages" was started immediately at the station. The chief contacted a local military unit to see what the fire department could do to help out. They appreciated the offer and aided the firefighters in compiling a list for the public to work together to gather.
"We'll continue to collect items until the soldiers come home," Bennett said, adding he hopes that won't be long.
While packages of needed items can't be sent arbitrarily, the firefighters can collect the much-needed supplies to then be sent overseas by the local military unit. Any soldier needing the items will have access to the items.
Community donations are needed for the Armed Services Patriot Packages and can be dropped off at the fire house anytime.
Archer, a Gulf War veteran, knows firsthand what those deployed this time around are experiencing. He served a year in the Gulf with the United States Air Force 31st combat communications squadron during the first Gulf War.
"This will be the only way we can send the needed supplies," he said, remembering the need soldiers had for similar items while he was there. Several other military veterans have also served on the fire department. Main items needed are pre-paid phone cards, toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and Handi-wipes.
Archer and fellow firefighter Shane Zurcher agree the department is proud to support the troops. They placed yellow ribbons on their fire trucks to show their support. Bennett said the ribbons will stay on the trucks until the soldiers come home.
Sugar 'n Spice, 234 E. National Ave., donated the colorful ribbons to the station.
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What to contribute
Armed Services Patriot Packages acceptable items list:
Non-perishable food items
Summer sausage, jerky and beefsticks; candy, mints and gum; canned meats (Spam, tuna and chicken); canned chips (like Pringles); string cheese; dried fruits; powdered drinks (Kool-Aid, Gatorade, and tea bags, no instant tea); canned or vacuum packed nuts; and all kinds of crackers.
Pre-paid phone cards (very important); razors; roll on or stick deodorant; talcum powder; sunscreen; Chapstick; Handi Wipes (baby wipes); soaps; Visine; stationary and envelopes; toothbrush and toothpaste; reading material (books and magazines); cards or pocket games; and flea collars.