Town reaches out to troops in Afghanistan

ANCRAMDALE–A comment made by a local soldier to his grandmother has touched off an avalanche of giving down at the post office.

Army Private First Class Edward Michael Boyles, 19, of Ancramdale, a combat medic, was home from Afghanistan the week before Thanksgiving.

His grandmother, Bertha Boyles, said that though Eddie had to return to active duty a few days before the actual holiday, he was able to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal with his family before he left.

Eddie is the son of Charles “Chuckie” Boyles, of Ancramdale and Sharon Boyles of Canaan, the brother of Jesse Boyles, 16, and the grandson of Dave and Irene Silvernail of Copake Falls.

He graduated from Taconic Hills High School in June 2009, and he enlisted and headed off to basic training a month later.

It was his son’s childhood dream to serve in the military, said his father.

During his time at home, Eddie told his grandmother that while he receives many packages from home, some of his buddies “never get anything.”

Her grandson’s comment stuck with her, and one day when she was at the post office, Mrs. Boyles happened to mention it to Ancramdale Postmaster Debbie Taft.

Immediately struck by the image of soldiers far from home and forgotten over the holidays, Mrs. Taft decided to do something about it. “It was easy,” said the postmaster, who contacted Nancy Bryant, a member of the Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors group.

Ms. Bryant contacted Town Supervisor Art Bassin, who, in turn put out a broadcast email to townspeople, letting them know that Postmaster Taft had started a “care package box” for Eddie and the other soldiers in his unit: B Company 1st Squadron, Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

The list of suggested items that people might donate includes: deodorant, soap, body powder, suntan lotion, body lotion, jelly beans, Rice Krispie treats, Altoids or mints, beef jerky/Slim Jims, snack mixes, sunflower seeds, chewing gum, nuts, Little Debbie snacks, re-sealable plastic bags (for keeping things airtight, watertight and fresh), jaw breakers, playing cards, dice, crossword puzzles, sardines, Pringles potato chips, individually wrapped licorice, microwave popcorn, ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, cereal bars/granola bars, hot cocoa mix, tea, flavor packets for bottled water, M&Ms (plain or peanut), soup mix, magazines (don’t have to be new), wet wipes in packets, hand sanitizers in packets, razors, juice boxes and drink pouches, ink pens, writing paper and envelopes, handwritten notes and cards of support to the soldiers in the troop, Chapstick, toothpaste, tooth brushes, hard candy and travel size tissues.

The response has overwhelmed Mrs. Taft, who has already mailed out two large boxes, has four more boxes ready to go and nine more boxes filled with stuff in the community room.

Each box weighs between 15 and 20 pounds and costs about $15 to mail. Mrs. Taft, who has been paying the postage herself, will accept donations to help with the costs.

She said people from all over Ancram and surrounding towns, people from all walks of life, young and old are venturing in with goodies for the troops.

“It is truly touching to see this generosity from our townspeople,” Mrs. Taft wrote in an email to Mr. Bassin thanking him for his assistance with getting the word out.

The collection will continue for as long as people keep giving, said Mrs. Taft, vowing the send out every last item.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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