Two East Islip Middle School students’ dedicated efforts to support overseas American troops have struck a chord with impressed Vietnam veterans.
Working on their own time during the school year, eighth-graders Samantha Gugliotta and Samantha Morris ran a neighborhood collection for care packages to send to the troops in Afghanistan.
Syosset resident Tom Page became aware of what the students had done – and of East Islip’s ongoing donation program for overseas military personnel – when he saw a cable news story highlighting their efforts. “With kids their age today having so many distractions, including electronics, social activities and a greatly expanded workload in school, it is refreshing to see some who still find the time and make the effort to care about others,” remarked Page.
Page not only wrote the girls a thank-you letter
, he donated an array of items to send to Afghanistan (from pre-cooked bacon and beef jerky to Gatorade mix and air fresheners) and volunteered to pay for shipping for items that the Samanthas had brought in. Another Vietnam vet, Kevin P. Brooks of Brooklyn, also found out about the two students’ actions and decided to write a letter
to them as well.
Page and Brooks know better than most how valuable such altruism can be. “I served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1968,” Page explained. “I know firsthand how much it means to those in harm's way to see and hear that people back home remember them and care about them. Sometimes that touch of home – a certain smell, a taste, a story or something for comfort – is just the right salve for the wounded psyche to enable them to rejoin the fray with real hope of a better tomorrow, maybe a life with lots of tomorrows.”