‘Helping Our Heroes’ Care Packages Being Sent to Troops

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SHENANDOAH, Pa. -- Two high school students in Schuylkill County are working to put together care packages for military troops around the world.

The boxes look like something you'd find in a college dormitory -- various items to help a student get through the semester. But these boxes are much more than that.

"I would really like for it to remind them of home and lift their spirits, even if it's just for a day, to make them feel a little bit better," Emily Demalis said.

Emily Demalis and Katilyn Hepler are seniors at Shenandoah Valley High School. Recently, the two came up with a plan to send these care packages to U.S. troops all around the world.

"We noticed that there are a lot of troops in this area. We wanted to give our community an opportunity to show their appreciation," Hepler said.

This "Helping Our Heroes" initiative is all part of Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization that sends these care packages to those who serve our country. So far, the nonprofit has sent more than two million boxes to active service members and veterans across the globe.

"Our soldiers, they appreciate anything we can give them. They're in a foreign country and place that, any type of message from home, or reminder from home, it really lifts morale," said student council advisor Anthony Pytko.

Two essential items in these care packages are a pair of socks and a sewing kit. These boxes have everything from deodorant to suntan lotion to a pack of gum. When some of these troops have some downtime, they can even play some cards or fill out a crossword puzzle.

"One of the things that inspired me: my uncle, he currently serves in the Air Force. I thought about how much he had sacrificed for our country and I kind of wanted to give back to everyone who has sacrificed," Demalis said.

The students from Shenandoah Valley hope to work with business in Shenandoah to help collect donations. They plan to ship the care packages next month.

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