Carmel SU Hosts “Girl Power” Fall Fest and Color-a-Thon

To celebrate the start of a new Girl Scout year, the Carmel Service Unit hosted a Girl Power Fall Fest at the Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel. Girl Scouts from all across the council attended the event.

“The event was based on the Girl Power patch,” explains troop leader Barb Londa. The patch requirements explain Girl Power as “showing what you are really made of and being a great friend to everyone around you”. It encourages girls to take other people’s emotions into consideration, and to learn to be strong, smart, and independent.

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Barb adds, “We had stations set up under the 2 pavilions for the girls to rotate through:  Anti-bullying, caring cards, friendship game, kindness tree leaves.” While a Girl Power playlist set the mood, they rotated through the stations set up with props for making skits, making cards for veterans and friendship bracelets, playing hopscotch, hula hoop, and jump rope, and service stations for Sandy Hook Promise and Operation Christmas Child.

 

Stations were also set up by the Putnam County Land Trust, and Adaptive Sports Foundation. a Gold Award Girl Scout from NJ came with Adaptive Sports to explain her project and inspire the girls to take action in their own communities.

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The day also included a full scale color run, which was a definite highlight of the day! The girls, drenched from the rain, were coated from head to toe in a rainbow of bright colors.

“The weather kept some away but those that came all had a great time.  Huge downpour just in time for the color run!”

Despite the rain, they camped out with glow in the dark bracelets, glow sticks, tattoos, and of course a campfire and sing-along.

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There’s Always Room for Happiness and Hope – A Girl Scout’s Reflection on Community Service

Guest Blogger: Jahnvi, a sixth grade Juliette is a voracious reader and an artist at heart. She has two poems published in Chronogram; and has won 1st places nationally and in Dutchess county in Indian classical dance. Last year, she won a special award for academic excellence and leadership, and an award at the Dutchess county regional science fair. She also loves to play the flute and tennis.

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One of my most memorable experiences as a Girl Scout was earlier this year. Although I’m a Juliette now, I was a member of Troop 10146 and my mom was the leader.

My troop decided to teach crafts at a local children’s home for a take action project. Although we all agreed on this project, we had many questions about visiting the children’s home. Some girls in my troop even thought that it was going to be a depressing place or like the movie Annie in which children were treated meanly. I had never been to a place like it, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Our troop’s plan was to each come up with a craft that we could teach the children. It took a lot of time to plan, because everyone needed materials for their crafts, and everyone had to think about what the children would enjoy.

When the day arrived, we gathered at the front entrance of the children’s home. As soon as we entered the room, the kids were so excited to see us. They were of all ages from toddlers to school age. There was a toddler who wanted to be hugged and picked up. I could see that they were well cared for by staff unlike the movie Annie.

I felt sad for them for what they were going through in life, but I was surprised that they were so smiling and energetic. I was glad that I could do something cheerful for them. Teaching them crafts was both a fun and social experience. My craft plan was for everyone to decorate a strip of paper and then connect them into a paper chain, as a symbol for the connection between all of them. One little smart girl expressed that she was making the craft for her mom, and I felt bad because she probably wasn’t going to see her mom for a while.

I hadn’t really done a big community project ever before so the visit to the children’s home was a special first time experience. I felt really good inside to make a little difference for one day in the children’s’ lives. It also played a big role in our leadership journey that we were working on for our Bronze award.

The project was also good to develop my social skills, because I am kind of a quiet person. It gave me a social and leadership experience to do activities with younger kids by trying to be open and fun.

The most important lesson it taught me that even if one goes through a difficult situation, there is always room for happiness and hope.

 

Congrats to Our Own National Young Woman of Distinction

Today Girl Scouts announced the 2017 National Young Women of Distinction, and Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson is ecstatic to recognize Elizabeth Klosky, Cornwall, among them.

From the thousands of exceptional Girl Scouts who earn their Gold Award each year, Girl Scouts of the USA recognizes 10 girls as inspiring leaders who have transformed an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact at the local, national, and global levels.

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“When I first had heard that I was named one of the National Young Women of Distinction, I was completely ecstatic. I was so surprised to hear the news because I was down in Virginia visiting and working on my uncle’s farm at the time. It’s such an honor to be selected, and I’m so excited to be involved in promoting Girl Scouts. I really hope that I can inspire some younger Girl Scouts to pursue their passion and to become leaders, and I want to encourage them to go for it, one-hundred percent!” says Elizabeth.

 

Elizabeth chose to address the public’s lack of knowledge and fear of bees, especially among children. She then took it a few leaps further by addressing the need for legislative awareness and support for bees on a state and local level, and the need for habitat protection. Her efforts to “Educate! Legislate! Populate!” began with training a team to present dozens of fun, hands-on educational activities, displays, and workshops. She then connected with environmental education organizations, museums, community gardens, and farms, as well as other groups who rely on bees and the environment.

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Through her efforts, she was able to reach thousands of people across New York, Europe, Japan, and Australia directly—and thousands more worldwide through social media. She taught adults and children about bees, and showed how anyone can help them by taking action. She then teamed with local and state legislators, writing and promoting bee-friendly legislation. She brought pressure through grassroots advocacy, including petitions, emails, and phone calls—resulting in Pollinator Awareness Week being established in towns and villages across the state. She then had a bill passed in the New York State Assembly and Senate and signed by Governor Cuomo. Funding for bee research is also being passed in the state budget. To continue her work, she is creating a nonprofit geared at continued public education on the importance of bees.

“My project NY Is A Great Place to Bee is still ongoing, even after I finished my Gold Award project. At this stage I am working with my family and “Worker Bees” to try and make the project into a non-profit one. Hopefully my position as a NYWOD will bring even more attention nationally to the plight of bees everywhere, and promote action in localities beyond my personal reach. Getting more eyes on their rapid decline will hopefully bring many more supporters and more assistance to the bees,” Elizabeth adds.

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We could not be more proud of Elizabeth and all her hard work – as well as the other 9 NYWOD from across the country. Everyone of them have done amazing work to better their local and global communities.

From supporting girls’ menstrual hygiene in rural India to creating water conservation technology to help farmers in California, this year’s National Young Women of Distinction are creating positive change to address society’s most pressing issues. They exemplify how Girl Scouts confidently stand up for what they believe in, advocate for causes, and take action to solve community problems and build a better world. You can see the full list of this year’s winners here.

Striving for Silver: Blankets for Blythesdale

Ella and Maria of Troop 2954 are wrapping up their Silver Award project “Blankets for Blythesdale”.
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Their Project:

We decided we wanted to make a positive impact on the young patients of Blythedale Children’s Hospital by making them fleece blankets. We held workshops after school and over the summer. We welcomed people to join us and help make homemade blankets to donate to kids in Blythedale Children’s Hospital. You can visit the website we made to learn more about our project.

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Why this project?

We chose to do this because a hospital can be an unfamiliar environment and can cause kids to be scared so our hope was that these blankets would comfort them.
We chose this project because we love to work with kids and we love to DIY and craft. At the beginning of the project we both wanted to go into the medical field so we thought a hospital would be a great place to donate them.

What did they learn?

We learned a lot of things from this project but most importantly I think we learned communication skills. From talking to adults over email, phone call or in person to children giving them instructions we both improved greatly.

Troop 10102 Explore Women’s Issues Through GirlTopia Journey

The It’s Your World—Change It! Leadership Journeys encourage girls of all ages to make the world a better place and make new friends along the way. Troop 10102 from the East Fishkill Service Unit just finished up the GirlTopia Journey.

One of their favorite parts of the journey was an art project – the task was to depict something that made them happy / brought them peace. Nicolette, Alexa, Reggie, Emma, and Kim (who are quite the artists) showed off their finalized pieces at the E. Fishkill Library last Saturday.

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As part of the GirlTopia Journey, they were encouraged to develop their own vision of an ideal world and acquire the skills to make it a reality. The Senior troop decided to interview women from all generations and walks of life to collect their stories – and hear how gender roles, the media, opportunities for education and employment, and bullying/harassment had affect them as women.

Their youngest interviewee was 12; the oldest was 105. They interviewed women who had grown up in the North America, South America, and Europe. Women who remembered WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the rise of Jazz music, and Title IX. Women who grew up on farms, worked factory lines during the war, became secretaries, devoted their adult lives to motherhood, served in the military, pursued higher education, and one who aspires to be a film director.

Through these interviews, the 5 Senior Girl Scouts of Troop 10102 began to see a picture of womanhood throughout the last century. They:

  • Gained advice (“if they don’t like you, tell them ‘tough toenails’.”)
  • Gained perspective on how the media and beauty industry set unfair and ever-evolving standards of “perfection”
  • Saw how ‘getting picked on’ has evolved from playground taunts to cyber-bullying through the years.

Here is a collection of some of their interview responses:

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Interview with a Gold Award Recipient

Ashley Curtis, Troop 60383 in the Misty Mountains Service Unit, recently completed her Gold Award project “The People’s Place Renovation and Donations”. She sat down to talk with us about her successes. She received the Pride of Ulster County award at the county legislator meeting on Tuesday August 15 because of her project and other community service through Girl Scouts.

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Interviewer: Congrats on earning Gold! Can you tell us a bit about your project?
Ashley: Thank you. For my project, I renovated two rooms and a bathroom in the upstairs of the Peoples Place which could then be used as offices as well as a private place for people to use when free services come in such as breast exams, and diabetes testing. I also set up an ongoing food drive at my church which continues to get donations of non perishable food items that either myself or someone in my family brings over to the Peoples Place often.

Interviewer: That’s amazing, you must have been busy.
Ashley: Yeah… In addition to that, I made “birthday bags” which include napkins, plates, a small toy, and a gift card the family can then use to buy a cake or cupcakes. When a child has a birthday, a parent can come in and request a birthday bag for them. I also bought a clear display holder for business cards or brochures that is hung on the wall so that people coming in can see the services that are available for them.

Interviewer: Sounds like a huge project. And very successful.
Ashley: It was!

Interviewer: Why did you choose this project?
Ashley: All I knew for my project is that I wanted to help people. After looking at multiple projects in other countries I realized that there is so much help that is needed right here in my community and my efforts would benefit those around me.

Interviewer: That’s great. I’m always so impressed to see so many kind-hearted Girl Scouts doing amazing things in the community – whether that’s locally or globally. I think sometimes people forget that sometimes the person who needs the most help is right next door.
Ashley: Exactly. I hope other people are (inspired by my project) and learn that it is possible to make a difference, especially right here in your own community.

Interviewer: Did you have a favorite moment from the project?
Ashley: My favorite moment had to be when I finished my project and got to show the finished rooms to the staff at the peoples place. They were all very thankful and overjoyed.

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Interviewer: It’s always great to see people’s faces light up. You must have been very proud.  Did you have any setbacks during the project?
Ashley: I was involved in a car accident and suffered an awful concussion that put a hold on my project for a little while.

Interviewer: Wow, I’m glad you’re alright! That must have been scary. But you didn’t give up.
Ashley: Nope. It didn’t stop me from going out and organizing the food drive and making birthday bags while I rested a little while before getting back to the hard labor work of renovating rooms.

Interviewer: You’re clearly a fighter. I admire your commitment… Did you learn anything from this project?
Ashley: I really learned a lot about working with my hands: ripping up a carpet, removing hundreds of staples, scrubbing floors, plastering and painting walls, and removing ceiling tiles. My dad was my Go-To-Person for my project and I was very happy that he helped and mentored me along throughout the hands-on portion of my project. From my mother, who is also my troop leader, I learned a lot about public speaking, responsibility, and professionalism while setting up the food drive.

Interviewer: Is there any advice you’d give to someone else thinking about doing a Gold Award project?
Ashley: To anyone thinking about doing their gold award i definitely recommend it. It is a great feeling to know that you made a change in the world no matter what you decide to do for your project.

GSHH Robotics Team Takes on World Competition

A week ago, I sat down with the Techno Chix, via Skype, to talk to them about their team’s accomplishments. Team members Tara, Emilia, Sarita, Sim, Elanagh, and Sarah shared an hour with me explaining how they got involved, how their robots work, the process they go through to build a successful robot, and how much they love competing against and meeting other teams.

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After a full year of planning, programming, writing code using Java and Android Studio, and building their prototype (nicknamed “Goldilocks”), the Techno Chix advanced all the way to World Competition. Earlier this summer they traveled to St Lewis to take on 130 other teams from around the world – including India, Jamaica, and the Netherlands. They finished ranked 20th in the World.

How was the event? “AMAZING!” is the unanimous reply. “The best part is meeting people from everywhere”, says Sim. The teams each set up their own station – showcasing their team spirit and, often, their country’s culture. Everyone exchanges SWAPS and shares their experiences.

To advance to this level, they had first won the Qualifying round (Westchester), Regionals (Hudson Valley and Albany), and Super Regionals (North East United States).

So how does it work? 

  1. In September they’re given a challenge. (This year’s will be released on September 9th). The challenge, always announced by video, will give them the year’s theme and tasks they need to complete.
  2. Brainstorm and strategize. They work together to figure out the mechanisms and parts. The girls keep track of everything in a notebook which they often use to reference past projects and track changes to the current robot.
  3. Local Competition. It’s 2 teams versus 2 teams, with different partners each match, so you have to be collaborative. “You’re in a competitive environment, but show compassion”, suggests Sim. The team you’re competing against in round 1 may be your teammates in round 2. “It encourages working together and forming bonds with other teams,” explains Elanagh.
  4. Back to the drawing board. After each competition there is time to make adjustments and changes to the robot itself as well as the programming. “One of the big advantages is that we go to a lot of challenges staggered throughout the season, so if we see something we like, we can go back and improve,” says Emilia.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4. At competition the teams are judged on performance and ability to complete the task, innovation, their notebooks, and how well they work with other teams. The top award is the “Inspire” Award which means you’ve excelled in all areas. Winning the Inspire Award guarantees your team’s advancement to the next level of competition.

More than Robots:

“It’s so much more than robots” the girls tell me multiple times throughout our conversation. “It’s about marketing, outreach, buisness, public speaking, fund raising, socail media… these are all important things we’re learning and practicing that have nothing to do with robots”, says Elanagh. “Robots are just the medium FIRST uses to teach all the other skills,” adds Emilia. “The real goal is to prep you for the real world. Robots are just used to bring us together,” finishes Elanagh.

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The Techno Chix are also active with community outreach – bringing knowledge and hands-on activities to Girl Scouts, kids in STEM, and other members of the community. They recently held a robot demo at a STEAM expo at Westlake High School, and traveled to the Intrepid for a program run by NASA to give a demo and talk about what they do as a team.

Looking beyond high school, the girls agree it’s opened up a lot of options for them. “I’ve always been interested in engineering because my parents are architects. Actually being able to build something has reinforced that idea”, says Sarita.

Emelia, who is now in her first year at NYU, adds, “Techno Chix helped me find my career path. When I joined as a sophomore, I was confused and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now I’m pursuing Computer Science. It gave me a good feel for it, and a lot of hands-on experience.”

 

Progression by Age:

While the Techno Chix is just for 9th – 12th grade Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson also hosts an elementary school and middle school aged team for Girl Scouts who want a safe place to try robotics with their peers. “It’s a supportive environment, so you’re comfortable asking questions if you don’t know something. It’s great for learning,” says Sarita.

The elementary aged team works with projects and models, while the middle school team build Lego robots with kits. They’re given themes like “natural disasters” and have to work together to solve problems. The idea is progression and continuous learning, but the girls are sure to point out that you can join at any age. While some of them have been competing for years, some only joined last year.

 

Join them. Follow them. Support them.

The Techno Chix are a high -school aged Girl Scout robotics team that meets officially on Saturdays (although they tend to meet additional times during the week as well) in Pleasantville. If interested in finding out more info, or joining the team, email thechix18@gmail.com. You won’t regret it. Elanagh shares, “These are friendships that mean more than anything. They’re like my sisters.”

You can also follow them on Social Media:

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Back to School Nerves?

Summer’s coming to a close, which means school days are right around the corner. But is your girl feeling super excited to see her friends and explore new subjects, or is she feeling pretty nervous about meeting new people, starting at a new school, or even facing kids who weren’t so nice to her last year? Maybe a combination of both?

Before you answer, think about this: Have you really asked her?

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“It’s important to find out from your child what she is most excited about for the upcoming school year and what she’s maybe nervous or worried about,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Both positive and negative feelings are totally normal and should be discussed.” Girls are often conditioned to believe they’re supposed to be positive, happy, and smiling all the time—that “bad” feelings should be pushed away or glossed over. But the truth is, you need to feel and acknowledge those bad feelings to work through them. Ignoring them or brushing them off often only makes them worse—and turning a blind eye to your daughter’s nervousness can have even bigger consequences.

“If you avoid talking about things that seem negative, she might think you’re only open to discussing things that are positive—and that it’s disappointing to you for her to feel unhappy,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “That could mean she won’t bring those issues and struggles to you in the future, when she really does need your support.” So instead of telling her she’s silly to be worried, legitimize her feelings and let her know that there are some things in your life that have made you nervous, too.

And once you do know your girl’s back-to-school insecurities? Figure out a game plan to work through them together. Try doing a dry run of the walk or drive to school, or even see if you can visit the school a week before classes begin to walk around campus and see where her classroom might be. If she’s starting at a new school, reach out to local parents’ groups and see if you can set up a meeting between your girl and another member’s daughter so she knows at least one person on her first day.

Going back to school is a big time of transition, and your girl needs to know she’s got you in her corner. “After you’ve brainstormed ways to solve your girl’s anxieties, make sure to check in with her at the end of the first week of school and then again in a few week’s time,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “It’ll show her you take her feelings seriously and help keep the conversation open just in case new issues come up.”

“Surviving the Middle” – A High Schooler’s Guide to Surviving Middle School

Caitlin Allen knows what it’s like to move from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school. She knows that it can be intimidating and scary. That’s why, for her Gold Award project, she chose to develop a program to help 5th graders with the transition to 6th grade.

“I work with a 5th grade junior level troop a lot and the girls all had concerns about middle school”, she says, citing the reason for her project, “I also remember how scared I was about middle school and I saw a common need.”

The biggest part of her project, was a video shown to all the 5th graders in the Washingtonville School District. It’s also the part of the project she’s most proud of. “I love the way it came out & that it can be watched by anyone and will forever on YouTube!” Caitlin says. She also ran a program for the elementary school students – teaching them various life skills, answering questions, and prepping them for their next educational adventure.

“I hope they learned that even though change is scary, by keeping yourself informed and prepared, any change is easier.” But it wasn’t only the 5th graders who were learning, Caitlin gained life lessons as well. “The biggest thing i learned from my projct is how people can have a positive influence on each other,” she reflects.

Before leaving us, she asked the share a few final thoughts on the Gold Award itself:

“My best advice for anyone going for the gold is to ask for help. You can not do anything in life alone especially big projects. Other people have skills and talents different from you and people really do like to help other people!”

And on that note, she added: “I would like to thank all my troops, friends, family & teachers for their help & support. #goforthegold”

 

 

Operation Cooke Drop Cookies – Where Are They Now?

In June, hundreds of Girl Scouts gathered to drop off hundreds of thousands of boxes of Girl Scouts cookies – each box donated to Operation Cookie Drop, so active and retired military personnel could receive a small taste of home. Those cookies have now been every where from Yonkers to Qatar and Hawaii to Syria. They’ve been taken by car, naval ship, and plane to military bases and hospitals all around the world.

 

As of Sunday, August 13th, the following cookies had been delivered to the following locations…

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strapped into a C-17 and ready to fly!

Internationally:

  • 35 cases to Afghanistan
  • 25 cases to the Sixth Fleet in Italy
  • 10 cases to Qatar
  • 2 cases to Marines in Norway
  • 2 cases cookies to sailors in Bahrain
  • 5 cases to Local Paratrooper  in173 Airborne stationed in Aviano, Italy
  • 4 cases to Airman Potthast serving in Afghanistan
  • 2 cases to Sgt Parente –  a Marine in Syria
  • 10 cases to the USS Bataan off  the coast of Syria
  • 10 cases to the USS Mesa Verde – off coast of Syria
  • 3,500 boxes to Stratton Air National Guard base
    • 2,000 of those boxes are headed to South Pole in October/November
  • 200 cases to Fort Dix to fly out on planes to sailors at naval stations and bases around the world
miltary band member - served 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan
He told us how they used to throw the cookies out of the helicopters to get the Afghani children to scatter, so they could set the helicopters down without endangering their lives. He said he, of course, loved eating them too.

Military Bases in the US:

  • 50 cases to McGuire AFB
  • 50 cases to Fort Dix/Lakehurst
  • 250 cases were dropped at Stewart Air Force Base
  • 150 cases went to New York Guard/National Guardsmen from NY who have been sand bagging up in Rochester for two months!
  • 4 to Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 30,000 boxes to Fort Bragg
  • 5,000 boxes to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland
  • 1,000 boxes to the Maryland Guard
  • 1,000 boxes to the DC Guard
  • 2,500 boxes on board the USS Kearsarge for Fleet Week
  • 5,000 boxes to Quantico Marine Corp Base
  • 30 to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico – delivered by local Dutchess County Airman
  • 60 cases were driven to Fort Drum, NY by local Duchess County Soldier
  • 200 cases to the Navy Operational Support Center in Schenectady
  • 50 cases to TSgt Lisa Clark – McGuire AFB

 

Veterans Centers/Programs and Hospitals:

  • 50 cases to Montrose VA Food Pantry
  • 9 cases to Montrose VA hospital for programs / events
  • 150 cases to Kingsbridge VA hospital
  • 10 cases each to 2 different VA hospitals in New Jersey
  • 20 cases to a Veteran Ministry Program out of Yonkers
  • 15 cases were flown down to Tampa with the sailor who was injured at Op Drop Day…to a Spinal cord Rehab facility!
  • 70 cases at Albany VA Hospital – dropped by Westchester County Police dept.
  • 1,000 boxes to Walter Reed Medical Center
  • 1,000 boxes to National Veteran food program
  • 40 cases to Vet 2 Vet Westchester

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Events and Honor Flights:

  • 2,500 boxes to Westchester County Veterans for Veteran Appreciation Day
  • 15 cases -Westchester – Hudson Valley Honor Flight – Mission 16
  • 25 cases to United for the Troops in Carmel
  • 75 cases to the US Navy causes
  • 25 cases to NY Medal of Honor Event
  • 12 cases to WCC veteran events
  • 15 cases – Honor Flight – Mission 17 – Westchester
  • 15 cases – Honor Flight – Mission 18 – Stewart
  • 18 cases to Big Apple Honor Flight – Mission 1
  • 16 cases – Stewart Hudson Valley Honor Flight – Mission 15
  • 50 cases to Fort Dix for Family Appreciation Day

 

Total Boxes Donated: About 105,000
Total Boxes Already Delivered: About 74,000