RAMAPO, N.Y. -- Ramapo city employees, including everyone from the police department to the building department are making an effort to help out the troops this year by participating in "Operation: Defend the Holidays."
Sponsored by United for the Troops and created to help provide simple comfort items to the troops the military does not provide, the effort is a popular one with Ramapo employees and residents.
"It's such an important effort to make sure the troops know that we have not forgotten them and care about their needs," said John Yannaco, who organizes the event for the town.
He came up with the idea after working with the Putnam County group that originally started the drive 10 years ago when he was a basketball coach at Rockland Community College.
"The Putnam County group has raised more $1 million in their efforts to help," Yannaco said.
The effort is really one of a kind, said the recreation coordinator at the St. Lawrence Center.
Instead of large boxes of "stuff' being sent to the soldiers, under United for the Troops, boxes are packed and individualized for a soldier in need, he added.
In it's second year in Ramapo, the city places donation bins at the main entrance of Ramapo Town Hall, at the Police Department, the St. Lawrence Center and at Rockland Community College, where people can donate to the troops.
Some of the items requested include cookies and snacks, movies, T-shirts and other food and grooming items. In addition, for every $15 donated, a care package is sent to a solider in need.
The effort continues until Thanksgiving, when volunteers will collect and package the donations for shipment.
"This is a real heartfelt project and I hope everyone, including the public takes part," Yannaco added.
A suggested list of items to donate is available on the website ; just visit the site and click on "Wish List" in the upper right-hand corner of the page.