Group sending smiles to troops serving overseas
By Tawnya Panizzi
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
They were compiling SmileKits, a name surely fitting of the box brimming with cookies, candy, movies and more.
“We pray for the troops all the time,” said Susan Myers, one of 96 Howard Hanna employees who gathered last week to construct the care packages for U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
“We hope these make them smile and remind them we are thinking of them.”
The care packages, 19 in all, will be donated to Operation Troop Appreciation, a Pittsburgh-based group founded in 2004 to boost the morale of troops deployed overseas.
Pegged as a team-building seminar, employees from Barrister's Land Abstract Co. and Howard Hanna Mortgage attended the event at Boyd Community Center in O'Hara.
The group seemed to give as much as they got back.
“It's great to show support for the military,” said Myers, a closing coordinator for the real estate company. She and three acquaintances from the RIDC-based offices worked together to create a team name and then fill the care package with soap, toothpaste, gum and playing cards.
Kerry Fillmore, the facilitator from Team Builders Plus, said the event was meant to get people out of the office and learn about each other on a personal level.
“It helps ease mechanics back at work,” said Fillmore, who travels across the country from her New Jersey headquarters to coordinate similar morale-boosting events.
Last year, the organization hosted a program here called “Wheels for the World,” during which Howard Hanna employees built bikes for local needy children.
Employee Patty Knapp said the sessions are helpful because they give everyone a glimpse into what their peers do.
“It helps us learn how to work better together,” said Knapp, whose team this year called themselves “Hanna's Humvees.”
Names created by others included “Liberty Bells” and “Alpha Team.”
Fillmore said the workshop engaged participants in a series of team-building challenges as they filled the boxes with sunscreen, stationary, footballs and snack food.
Cathy Hopkins, a Barrister's employee, deemed the program a success — for the second year in a row.
“Work can be stressful and this gives us a chance to work together in a different environment,” she said. “We learn ways to interact and build communication.”
At the end of the day when the boxes were full, Staff Sgt. Matthew Claycomb of the state National Guard dropped in to collect the gifts and send them on their way.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Aspinwall hires part-time officer
- Fox Chapel Area students show support for Franklin Regional peers
- O’Hara, Aspinwall, Fox Chapel, Sharpsburg join forces to save on street paving costs
- Aspinwall seeks help collecting ticket fees
- O’Hara votes to seek bids for community center
- Bed and breakfast plan can move forward in Aspinwall
- Volunteers sought to pull weeds from Trillium Trail
- Blawnox, Indiana Twp., O’Hara roadwork to commence
- Gold medalist shares life lessons with Fox Chapel Area’s Dorseyville Middle School students