Care Package Program for Soldiers a Success

Article excerpt

A care package program for troops in Iraq started by a Washington Township firefighter will continue thanks to an impressive first wave of donations.

In March, Brett Seroka, 21, of Belle Vernon first called upon his fellow firefighters, local emergency services, residents and business owners to donate items, nonperishable food and words of encouragement for Mon Valley troops serving in Iraq.

Seroka said his father, Donald, a U.S. Navy veteran, inspired him to start the program.

The young firefighter said Monday that enough items have been collected to fill 11, 70-pound boxes at the Washington Township fire hall, the headquarters for the program called "Heroes Supporting Heroes."

"I was really shocked with how much support we got from the surrounding communities," he said. "We couldn't go a day without getting something dropped off. Every day, I'd go to the fire hall and I'd have a stack of stuff to go through. It was really amazing."

Seroka said running the program was "like a second job" for him, adding that he spent from 25 to 28 hours a week organizing the effort.

He said $2,600 was donated that will go toward packaging and shipping costs.

More than 500 letters to the troops were written.

Seroka said he wanted to thank his mother, Laurie, and girlfriend, Shannon McFeely, for their help with running the program.

Local fire departments, churches, other community organizations and numerous residents turned in donations.

Seroka said he hopes for an even larger response when the second collection begins in the fall.

He said the next wave would be shipped around Christmas.

Seroka said donations should not be turned in until September.

"We're going to take a few months off because we don't want to bleed the public dry with donations," Seroka said. …