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African American military man, horizontal
Beyond helping others, donating food, clothing, and other necessities to the needy can have its rewards — as one Chicago-area grocery store found out recently.

The Fairplay store in Worth, IL, received a special gift from the 108th Sustainment Brigades: an American flag that had flown at their base in Kuwait. The flag flew over the base on Sept. 11, 2014, and was then shipped to the store at the end of February.

The flag was presented to the store’s manager, Sam Nicastro, as a thanks for donating foods and other goods to active duty troops in the Middle East over the past decade.

The presentation also honored two local volunteer groups — AdoptaPlatoon of Hickory Hills and Twisted Sisters of Palos Hills. These two groups represents several others in the community whose mission is to help military personnel overseas feel appreciated for their sacrifices.

For the past decade, both groups have been sending care packages each month to soldiers, marines, seamen and airmen — some of whom don’t receive any other mail. Shipping costs for the care packages are covered by donations.

Jim Kruse, the head of AdoptaPlatoon for Hickory Hills, said that the Fairplay store has been “instrumental in procuring items” for troops over the past decade. The store collects and donates the items regularly.

Especially popular are donations of non-perishable food items, books and other reading material, small toiletries and clothing. Each year Americans donate 14.3 million tons of clothing, which help individuals, families, and U.S. military members worldwide.

In addition to donations that pick up at home or are dropped off, the groups also send religious items and books from various denominations. Cards and letters written by local schoolchildren are also included in the care packages.

The most popular item, according to Kruse, is candy.

“We send chocolate from September through March before the temperatures reach 100+ in the areas where the troops are,” Kruse said.

The 25 to 30 regular volunteers from Twisted Sisters (and Twisted Brothers) have also been including these items and something special for the past 10 years: homemade cookies, says group leader Judy Bernaciak.

Kruse’s organization is part of the nationwide AdoptaPlatoon program and is assisted by the city of Hickory Hills, St. Patricia Catholic Church and St. Patricia’s Holy Name Society.

“These items have been sent to units, ships, and chaplains each month,” said Kruse. “Mr. Nicastro has stated that is Fairplay’s resolve to help our local neighbors who need it.

Twisted Sisters is an organization that works through the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Palos Hills, along with the parish’s Holy Name Society, Council of Catholic Women and Senior Fun Club.

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