Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Operation Touch of Home

It's rare to see a military truck backed up to the loading dock of a post office, but that's what we encountered yesterday morning in Brodheadsville, Monroe County. It was called "Operation Touch of Home."

It's a simple concept-- collect comfort items, ship them off to US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and do it in time for Christmas.

We heard it over and over again-- a pack of beef jerky, a container of baby wipes, a tube of lip balm, a deck of cards, a box of crackers... things we take for granted here mean so much to soldiers in a war zone, especially because they're away from home at the holidays.

We did the story last year, and we went back this year, wondering if things would be different. The economy is struggling. People suffer from something called "charity fatigue." There are so many organizations looking for help. It can get to you after a while.

Yes, things were different this year. There were actually more donations than last year. It shows what our area is all about. Even when times are tough, people are willing to help. Many of the volunteers offered to share their stories. Some of the people associated with Operation Touch of Home had or have loved ones in the middle east. That can't be easy.

As I left the post office, I told the volunteers "I hope I don't see you next year." They instantly knew what I meant. It would be nice to see things settled, and everyone home for the Christmas of '09.

Before I go, a word about Veterans Day. It's one of the toughest observances for those of us in the news business. Every city and town has a memorial program today, and that's great. It's part of being an American. We try to get to as many as we can. It's impossible to get to them all, and that leaves some hard feelings. Whether or not you get on TV, you're all equally important, and I'm sure the veterans appreciate your efforts. I know I do.