By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — MORIAH — Some early Christmas presents from the community are lifting the spirits of a Moriah native and his U.S. Marine company stationed in Afghanistan.
Shivering in the cold desert of Afghanistan, Lucas “Luke” Boyle says the weekly treat packages from back home have been very much appreciated.
Boyle’s parents, family, friends, area businesses and a local motorcycle group have banded together to send the packages to Luke and members of his unit.
They’ve been mailing hand-knitted hats, scarfs and gloves, candy, toothpaste, soap, trail mix, soups, jams, socks, tea, granola bars, peanut butter and many other items.
His parents, Ralph and Rhonda Boyle, have sent dozens of gift packages to Luke, thanks to all those contributing.
“We ship on Mondays and Fridays,” Mr. Boyle said. “I wrote on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to send him a card, and this started rolling in.
“We’ve sent 38 boxes so far.”
‘SO PROUD OF HIM’
The 18-by-18-inch boxes cost $14 each to mail, and some people have also contributed money to help with postage costs. Collection jars are at Boyeau’s Grocery and Deli in Moriah Center and Frank’s Knotty Pine in Port Henry. There’s an item collection box at the Moriah Town Hall, and monetary donations can also be left there.
Luke, 24, is a corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, which provides fire support and coordination to other units. He has been in the Marines for five years and left in October for his fourth tour of duty in the Middle East.
“We’re so proud of him,” Mr. Boyle said. “His unit calls in air strikes. He’s right on the front line.”
Luke’s parents talk with him regularly on Skype, and Luke said he wants to thank the entire community and everyone who helped.
“I feel the love, support and appreciation from the community,” he said via Skype. “I really appreciate everything everyone has done for me and my unit. It has touched my heart. We’re all smiles now when we go for our mail.”
STUDENTS WROTE LETTERS
He said the packages make being in a war-torn place a little easier.
“The more cups of soup and sweets and homemade stuff the better. We have enjoyed everything that was sent to us. It’s going to be a great Christmas.”
It’s winter in Afghanistan, his father said, so they particularly like the hats and scarfs.
Mr. Boyle said the outpouring of support for Luke and the troops is outstanding.
“It’s been overwhelming. People have been fabulous. I made 60 pounds of venison jerky, and we sent that, too.”
One volunteer, Janet Denney of Moriah, said she went around looking for donations.
“I went to Vermont Soap (Organics in Middlebury), and they gave us samples. For Valentine’s Day, we’re doing boxes of candy hearts to send.”
Moriah resident Sandy Beebe teaches at Addison Elementary School in Vermont, and her class wrote cards to the troops.
“(Luke) is going to write to the students at Addison Elementary School to thank them, and he was going to ask his men to write, too,” Mr. Boyle said.
YET TO HOLD SON
Retired Senior Volunteer Program Director Barbara Brassard said her volunteers helped.
“My knitters did hats and mittens. They turned out some great things for them.”
The Loyalty Riders motorcycle group of Moon Hill in Moriah held a fundraiser for Luke.
“They said they would like to help,” Ralph said. “Their check is going for postage.”
Among other businesses helping are Boyeau’s Deli, Mineville Oil and Frank’s Knotty Pine.
Luke and his wife, Catherine, have an infant son, Christopher James Boyle, born earlier this year, whom he will see for the first time when he comes home in mid 2013.
The family plans to hold a community barbecue when Luke returns, his father said, to acknowledge those who have helped with the effort.
“My wife and I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for their support, appreciation and love for our son,” Mr. Boyle said. “It’s been overwhelming to our family.”
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