August 25, 2008

Local hotel donates toiletries to deploying Soldiers

By Spc. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Andy Hall, a member of the Varina Lions Club, loads a a box of toiletries into the back of a Humvee for Soldiers of the 276th Engineer Battalion. The Wyndham Hotel and the Lions Club teamed up to donate several large boxes of toiletries to the unit, which will begin mobilization at the end of November. (Photo by Spc. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

GLEN ALLEN, Va.— A detail of Soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion was tasked to go to the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center here Aug. 21. The reason for such a trip was not to aid local authorities in a riot situation or to help local golf enthusiasts evacuate in case of a hurricane. Instead they were sent to pick up supplies donated to them from local organizations.

The Wyndham resort teamed up with members of the Lions Club to donate many boxes of toiletries to the Soldiers of the 276th in support of the battalion’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

During a transition in management at the hotel it was discovered that they had boxes of miscellaneous hygiene amenities and other goods one would find in their rooms while staying in a hotel. Among the boxes were shampoo, conditioner, lotion, coffee, coffee makers and pots, and trash cans.

Since these items were going to be disposed of anyway, hotel staff decided they would be better put to use if they were donated to Soldiers being sent overseas.

“My first goal was to get it to the troops,” said Amy Hanna, director of housekeeping.

Hanna contacted David Ambroggi, immediate past district governor of Lions Club District 24b, who she has worked with in the past.

Ambroggi, who has worked with veterans in the Lions Club, was able to contact Tricia Riggs, a family assistance center specialist with the Virginia National Guard Family Programs. Riggs then coordinated the donation between the two organizations and the 276th.

Linda Libertelli, general manager of the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center, hands a box of toiletries to Spc. Kyle Harris, a Soldier in the 276th Engineer Battalion. (Photo by Spc. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“I thought they needed a little touch of home to make them feel better over there,” said Hanna. “It’s the least we could do for them…For all that they do for us.”

The Soldiers of the battalion seemed very thankful to receive the items donated. The items will help cover some of the Soldiers’ basic needs while they are deployed. The donations will also, “Help to make Soldiers feel more comfortable during mobilization and deployment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Larry Jackson, a retention and career counselor.

“On a different deployment someone gave our unit 10,000 toothbrushes,” said Jackson, a veteran of past deployments overseas.

Items not donated to the Soldiers, such as linens, pillowcases and towels, will most likely be donated to local women’s shelters at a later date, said Hanna.

The 276th Engineer Battalion last deployed from March 2004 to March 2005 when the battalion served in Iraq. With this deployment to Afghanistan, the battalion headquarters and the forward support company of the 276th Engineer Battalion will mobilize. The battalion headquarters will provide command and control for the FSC and three engineer companies from other states.

“Once again, Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard will answer our nation’s call to do their part in the Global War on Terror,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Engineers have a critical mission in Afghanistan, and I am confident in the abilities of the leaders and Soldiers of the 276th to execute their assigned missions effectively.”

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