U.S. military community in Naples collects 31 boxes of items meant to comfort service members

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American Red Cross Naples volunteers at Allied Joint Force Command Naples received and packed more than 31 boxes of snacks, personal care, clothing and other items for U.S. service members serving in Europe from ballast. Organizers say the week-long donation campaign can be repeated depending on need and what is happening in Ukraine. (Mitzy DeAguilera/American Red Cross Naples)

NAPLES, Italy — A wide assortment of donated items collected by volunteers from the local military community will soon be on their way to U.S. military personnel in Central and Eastern Europe.

Thousands of US service members have been deployed to Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank as fears that Russia is plotting a full-scale invasion of Ukraine have proven true . In about a week, the war claimed 1 million refugees, according to United Nations figures.

The fundraiser, which began last week and ended on Friday, yielded more than 31 boxes of items including cereal bars, candies and other snacks, as well as shower shoes, towels, hats, scarves, socks, coloring books and games, said Mitzy DeAguilera, the acting regional program manager for the American Red Cross in Naples. Items could be kept or given to children and others.

“The response has been overwhelming in a good way,” DeAguilera said. “It’s a unified feeling of support for Ukraine, the mission and our NATO allies.”

Approximately 30 boxes of items donated to benefit U.S. service members in Eastern Europe were collected at Allied Joint Force Command Naples.

Approximately 30 boxes of items donated to benefit U.S. service members in Eastern Europe were collected at Allied Joint Force Command Naples. (Mitzy DeAguilera/American Red Cross Naples)

American Red Cross Naples volunteers at Allied Joint Force Command Naples received and packed more than 31 boxes of snacks, personal care, clothing and other items for U.S. service members serving in Europe from ballast.  Organizers say the week-long donation campaign can be repeated depending on need and what is happening in Ukraine.

American Red Cross Naples volunteers at Allied Joint Force Command Naples received and packed more than 31 boxes of snacks, personal care, clothing and other items for U.S. service members serving in Europe from ballast. Organizers say the week-long donation campaign can be repeated depending on need and what is happening in Ukraine. (Mitzy DeAguilera/American Red Cross Naples)

For the past week, five or six volunteers have been working four hours a day at the La Mimosa thrift store at Allied Joint Force Command Naples accepting contributions and packing them, DeAguilera said.

The donations will be distributed through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, which supports U.S. service members and their missions. The idea is to provide sources of comfort and well-being to service members and those in need, she said.

Donations will be dispatched next week to Red Cross posts. Depending on needs and events in Ukraine, the Red Cross may reopen collecting donations later, she said.

“We just have to wait and see how things develop,” DeAguilera said.

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