Girl Gives Up Birthday Gifts For Troops, Inspires Community

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Seven year old Autumn Crawley did something really special when she heard there was a joint Adopt-a-Platoon program underway in the community and at the Clifton-Fine Central School.

"I gave up my birthday presents for the Army because I wanted to. I said, 'Mom, can I give up my birthday presents?' Mom cried and I started helping," said Autumn, a second grade student.

Since then, the generosity of students in the Student Council and Honor Society and the close knit Adirondack community has grown with a variety of donated items that are being stuffed into holiday stockings.

The holiday goodies will be sent to members of Fort Drum's 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, also known as the "Maintenance Gladiators," which was recently deployed to Afghanistan.

"We have had such a heart-warming, overwhelming response," said Clifton-Fine teacher Deborah Wohnsiedler.

Eleven year old Abigail Hubbard and her family started the idea after learning that Clifton-Fine graduate Steven Durham was a member of the platoon that was deployed.

"It's very special and it's really nice because on Christmas you usually give," said Abigail.

Durham graduated from Clifton-Fine in 1998.

His family says the care packages from home will mean a lot to him and his fellow soldiers.

"I think he's going to be very happy," said Yajahira Durham, Steven Durham's wife.

"I know it means so much to Steve," said Durham's mother, Linda.                                    
                             
In addition to forgoing her birthday presents, Autumn Crawley also wrote a letter to the soldiers saying, "I want to thank you for risking your life to keep us free and safe."

The holiday shipment goes off to the troops later this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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