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Valentine messages sent to deployed soldier

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 3:06 p.m.
Rebecca Emanuele | Trib Total Media
Girl Scouts Troop 40473 (from left) Haylee Oates, 10, Ella Puckett, 10, Shanay Brown, 10, and Krysta Bridge, 16, Troop 40203, gathered with fellow girl scouts to make Valentine Day cards for deployed military personnel on Thursday evening, January 23, 2014, at the Pioneer Presbyterian Church in Ligonier, PA.

A string of Valentines wrapped its way twice around two rows of tables in the Byers-Tosh American Legion Post 267 waiting to be packaged and shipped to a local soldier deployed to Afghanistan.

Nearly 500 cards were signed by members of the legion as well as local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

“I connected the cards with a string so they could be hung up in the barracks as a decoration,” said Sue Crouse the auxiliary's president.

In addition to the cards, the boxes contained other donated items that would be useful to the deployed soldiers.

“We have such a wonderful group of community members and scouts, said Crouse. “I had no idea they would bring so much for us to send.”

A total of 10 boxes were filled and shipped at the end of January so they would arrive before Valentine's Day to a U.S. Army mechanic from Stahlstown. The solider is serving with an engineering battalion that retrieves and repairs smaller vehicles which have been hit by improvised explosive devices.

“We sent packages at Christmas and got a letter back from the solider along with a photograph,” said Crouse. “She said she was the only one who received packages and was teased by others in her unit as to how she rated so much attention from her home town.”

Crouse said the soldier indicated she shares everything she receives with others in her unit.

“Her mother said they were thrilled with how much we sent them. They are looking forward to the next shipment from Ligonier,” said Crouse. “So, we decided we would sent another package for Valentine's Day.”

The shipment included wet wipes, popcorn, candy, gum and other snacks, microwave packaged foods, canned fruits and, especially useful at this time of year in Afghanistan, hand warmers.

“We received monetary donations from individual legion members as well as items to be shipped. The post, squadron and auxiliary have all been instrumental in this endeavor,” said Crouse. “Their generosity is a way to say thank you to our soldiers.”

Crouse said she approached the Scouts as a way for the community to work together for a good cause.

Three Girl Scout troops — Brownie Troop 46422, Junior Troop 40473 and Junior Troop 40407 — participated.

Girl Scout Troop 40407, led by Sharon Bungard, provided sandwich bags filled with hand warmers, candy and a small card.

“When Susan called, I was excited to help with the project,” said Girl Scout Troop 40473 leader and Brownie troop 46422 co-leader Robin Puckett. “Each of our fundraisers allows people to donate to the troops. So supporting the troops is nothing new to the girls.”

Puckett said the girls were touched to find out some troops do not receive anything in the mail while away from home.

“They wanted to help give them a little bit of happiness,” said Puckett.

MaryAnn Hegan of Laughlintown said she was quite impressed with the donations from Boy Scout Troop 375.

“When I picked up the Boy Scouts' cards, they were all handmade,” said Hegan.

The Boy Scouts also donated a large box of supplies for the soldiers.

“It's important, to let them know they are not forgotten,” said volunteer Barb Craig of Ligonier, who was helping Hegan pack the boxes.

The auxiliary plans to send packages throughout the year. Contact Crouse at 724-238-6844 or email to add a deployed military member's name for the next shipment.

“You talk about a community working together to support our troops for Valentiine's Day, it is truly heart warming and I know the troops will love it, said Crouse. “They are gonna get a lot of love from Ligonier Valley.”

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or