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Saving Our Soldiers: Tyrone Students and Staff Support Soldiers Overseas

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Since 2008, students and staff from the Tyrone Area School District have been coming together to donate toiletry products, food and drink items, and hand-made cards and gifts to a foundation called Operation Save Our Soldiers.

Operation Save Our Soldiers (SOS) was created by Gary Clare, owner of Smith Furniture in Altoona. Gary was a Sargent tanker in the 104th Armored Cavalry in the United States Army for six years.

The idea for Operation SOS began as a simple conversation with a customer in Clare’s store.

About 14 years ago a customer came into our furniture store and mentioned that their son was serving in the military in Iraq and that they were sending him care packages. That conversation jogged my memory about my time in the military and the joy I received when I got my goodie boxes from back home”

— Gary Clare

“About 14 years ago a customer came into our furniture store and mentioned that their son was serving in the military in Iraq and that they were sending him care packages. That conversation jogged my memory about my time in the military and the joy I received when I got my goodie boxes from back home,” said Clare. 

Gary, as well as members of the community have been gathering items to send to soldiers for 12 years. Tyrone has been a part of the campaign for nine years.

“I saw an advertisement for the donation drive in the local media and brought it up at a social studies department meeting.  We have been involved ever since,” said Tyrone teacher Todd Cammarata.

This year care packages were sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to approximately 420 men and women serving in the 3/2 ADA Air Defense Artillery Regiment. When choosing where to send packages to every year, Gary says that Operation SOS tries to choose a unit with a soldier who has a hometown connection. Compared to past years, this was one of the bigger units.

“We had a decent year for donations, not as many as some past years, but we were still able to contribute a significant amount,” said Cammarata.

According to Cammarata, donations locally tend to fluctuate with what is going on internationally.  When American troops are involved in combat or events occur that make it more likely that troops will be deployed in harms way, donations go up.  However, it is important to remember that there are always troops deployed throughout the world, and they can always use a holiday morale boost no matter what the international situation.

When asked what motivates him to keep Operation SOS going, Clare said, “Our strong military keeps our freedoms safe and strong. Also, the student support means a great deal. The soldiers really appreciate all the handmade cards and well wishes from the students. It also helps to boost their morale.”

Clare would like to thank the all of the students, staff, and parents at Tyrone High School for their tremendous support of Operation Save Our Soldiers.

 

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The voice of the Tyrone Area High School
Saving Our Soldiers: Tyrone Students and Staff Support Soldiers Overseas