Two members of our military have sent letters of thanks to Newton Falls.
By AMANDA GARRETT
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NEWTON FALLS -- Since July, a group of ladies from Newton Falls have been shipping care packages full of snacks, hygiene products and clothes to U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East.
Mother and daughter Eleanor Shade and Cyndi Hogue founded NFO Supports USO to send packages to Camp As Sayliyah outside Doha, Qatar.
Camp As Sayliyah is a rest and recreation base where soldiers come for four-day periods to get away from combat zones.
The USO provides movies, hot showers and trips to the local shopping mall for soldiers while they are at the camp.
Shade found out about the camp when her son, Air Force Master Sgt. John Shade, was stationed there for a time. Hogue and Shade decided to form NFO (Newton Falls, Ohio) Supports USO to show their support for the troops.
"For those four days they can forget about the stress of the battlefield," said Hogue, who owns The Brew Basket Cafe and Gift shop in downtown Newton Falls. "It brings them a little bit of home."
What they send
NFO Supports USO sends packages full of individually wrapped candies, cookies and powdered drink boxes, which are especially popular in the desert where the temperatures regularly reach 110 degrees, Hogue said.
"It's refreshing for the soldiers to have something to drink other than water," she said.
However, some items don't hold up on the roughly 7,000-mile journey, Shade said.
"No chocolate because it melts and no potato chips or pretzels -- they would just turn to sawdust," she said.
NFO supports USO also sends sample sizes of hygiene products, such as shampoo, hair conditioner and shaving cream, and civilian clothes. Many soldiers want to visit the mall in nearby Qatar, but they can't when they are in uniform.
"Most of the soldiers only have their uniforms with them and they want to do something besides stare at the sand dunes for four days," Shade said.
NFO Supports USO also include notes of encouragement in the care packages.
"There are a lot of opinions about politics -- whether the war was a good decision or a bad decision, but no matter how people feel about that, they support the troops and appreciate their sacrifice," Hogue said.
Thanks from soldiers
NFO Supports USO has received two letters of thanks from soldiers who visited Camp As Sayliyah since they began sending the care packages.
The care packages "remind me how much the American public supports the troops from home as well as abroad," said Army Spc. Greg Collier, who is stationed in southwest Asia.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Carlos Garcia said he passed out some of the snacks in the care packages to people in Afghanistan, where he is stationed.
"Your gesture of love and appreciation is received by us, and passed on through them to the Afghan people," he said in a letter to NFO Supports USO. "Not only have you done a service for the men and women serving our country, but you have done a great deal for the people here as well."