Military Matters: Donations Needed For Returning Fort Drum Soldiers


After a year in Afghanistan, the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team are coming home.

The first waves arrived earlier this month.

All 3,600 of them should be home by the end of March.

When they get off the plane, the USO Fort Drum will be there to greet them.

"We shake their hand, we give them a hug, we say welcome home," said USO Fort Drum Director Karen Clark.

And they give each one candy bar.

It's a little thing that can really make a big difference for the soldier receiving it.

"The candy bar - it just symbolizes home. It's a comfort food. And it's just to tide them over...until after the welcome home ceremony," said Clark.

Right now, the USO does not have enough candy bars for the all the 3rd BCT soldiers coming home.

That's where the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks comes in.

The Potsdam Lodge is spearheading a candy bar drive to meet the USO's need, which is 3,500 candy bars by the end of the month.

"If you've left your family for a year and all your surroundings to go over for us, that's the least we can do is give you a candy bar when you return home," said Mary Charleston, vice president of the Elks North-Central District.

But, collecting 3,500 candy bars, or enough money to buy them, has proved to be a challenge. 

They're quickly running out of time.

"We probably actually need another 1,500 to 2,000 candy bars," said Charleston.

The Elks need your help.

They're counting on the community to donate candy bars, or the money to buy them, to meet their goal in time.

"Returning soldiers are the people who buy our freedom every day. For the price of a candy bar, it's a great way to say thanks to those soldiers," said Lt. Col. James Hassett (Ret.) of the Potsdam Elks Lodge.

Want to make a donation?

Funds or candy bars can be delivered to Potsdam Elks Lodge at 10 Elm Street or sent to the lodge at P.O. Box 415, Potsdam, New York, 13676.

For those who can't get their candy bars to Potsdam, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization will accept them at their offices at Key Bank at 200 Washington Street in Watertown.

If you have questions, call (315) 566-9058.

To donate time or funds to the USO, call (315) 777-8006.

Saturday, December 3, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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