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Below are some of the articles written about the Yellow Ribbon Support Group and their efforts within the community to support the troops.

Daily Herald: February 3, 2005
"St. Theresa Students Help With Care Kits"

"It's the behind the scenes production that is the important part of putting these packages together"

A group of sixth- through eighth-grade students trekked through the snow to Palatine's village hall to prepare care packages for the Yellow Ribbon Support Group, which sends the packages to military personnel serving around the world.

Students in all the grades brought in items, including shaving cream, batteries, mouthwash hand sanitizer, eye drops, dental floss, and tissues, and then helped the service organization package the products. "It's the behind the scenes production that is the important part of putting these packages together," said Pat McCoy, organizer of the Yellow Ribbon Support Group. McCoy added that the St. Theresa students provided tremendous help with preparing toiletry, snack, writing paper and battery bags. "Volunteers, like the St. Theresa group, help make this project work," she said.

Founded in April 2003, the Yellow Ribbon Support Group, which bills itself as the "Care Package Senders to America's Defenders," has sent out more than 2,300 care packages. To provide the organization with additional names of military personnel to whom to send care packages, call McCoy at (847) 359-2429. The packaging project was part of Community Service Day being celebrated by the students. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade wrote letters to military personnel, nursing home residents, children in hospitals and veterans. Sixth-through eighth-grade students helped out at local nursing homes, the Women in Need Growing Stronger store, the American Cancer Society, Palatine's Preservation for Human Dignity and other places. To learn more about St. Theresa School, call (847) 359-1820.

Daily Herald: Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake)
"Soldier Letters"

North Elementary School students were encouraged by the student council to write letters to American troops who were unable to return home for the holidays. More than 200 letters were delivered to the Yellow Ribbon Support Group to be included with the support care packages.

Pictured are (from left) student council members Nick Nissen and Anna Fleming and teachers Tom Krieger and Julie Selcke.

Daily Herald: July 9, 2004

Palatine residents do their part to support troops The costs of war in Iraq don't tend to creep into people's consciousness. No, the closeness of it, the reality of it suddenly comes slamming down on you one day, leaving you a bit stunned. That's what happened to Palatines resident Judy Benka in April as she was working as a pediatric nurse practitioner in an Elmhurst clinic. The staff got word that a former patient at the clinic had died in Iraq. The news especially hit hard one of the pediatric nurses, Joanne Salva, her son, Michael, is fighting in Fallujah, the same area of Iraq where the former patient died. It was this moment that made Judy realize the fighting that seemed so far away was really hitting close to home. And with Memorial Day just a few days off, Judy decided she needed to do something for the soldiers fighting in Iraq.

"On the way home, I thought it sure would be nice if my family did something to support them," Judy said , "In particular, so they realize what Memorial Day is really about - to give thanks for those who served and to remember those who served and gave their lives for us." Judy asked teachers at Pleasant Hill School to participate in the effort. Classes in kindergarten, third grade and sixth grade wrote letters and held a drive to collect items. Then Judy's family in June worked with the Yellow Ribbon Support Group to pack up the items and send them to Michael Salva and other soldiers. It was so important to Judy, she spent her birthday, not out at a fancy dinner with her family, but packaging up donations. The project has had a profound effect on the family, Judy said.

"It draws it all home, that it draws you in," she said. "It's just not Joanne Salva's son who's there. It's a friend of the family even though we've never met," she said. Mac and Pat McCoy of Palatine feel a personal connection to the war in Iraq every week. Last year, after their son Rick shipped off to Afghanistan, the couple started the Yellow Ribbon Support Group. "He had been in Desert Storm, so when he left, he said, 'Mom, I'm going to give you a list of wish list items. These are things I know we will need in the desert,'" Pat said.

"People want to do something, but they don't know what to do."

The retired couple began asking companies in the area for donations. They originally collected the things in their house, but then the Palatine Police Department donated a room for the Yellow Ribbon Support Group to use.

Although their son is now back, the McCoy's each week still pack up items to ship to soldiers. To date, they have sent out more than 1,200 packages. Pat said they try to send out about 150 packages a month.

Instead of fund-raising for money to mail the packages as they first did, the group now brings packages to churches and members of the congregation volunteer to mail them. Each package costs about $10 to mail. The group also sets out collection bins at the churches for items to send to the soldiers. The soldiers need trial-size hand sanitizers and other toiletries, beef jerky, granola bars, AA batteries and AAA batteries, prepaid phone cards, hot sauce and garlic powder. They also include letters to the soldiers.

"People want to do something, but they don't know what to do," Pat said.

The McCoy's project lets people make a difference in the life of a soldier serving overseas and to feel a one-to-one link with him or her. "I always tell them when we're handing out packages that the next time this bag will be opened is in Iraq or Afghanistan or Bosnia by a fella who's out there," Pat said. The McCoy's have gotten help from Scouts, Indian Guides, church and school groups, but they need more.

Pioneer Press: May 20, 2004
"Churches Collect Items For Soldiers"

Thanks to the efforts of Pat and Mac McCoy, whose son, Rick, is in Iraq as a U.S. Special Forces member, tow Palatine-Inverness area churches will be helping make the lives of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq a bit more tolerable.

Parishioners at Holy Family Parish and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church will be picking up packages filled with items that soldiers have requested to help them live each day somewhat like they do at home. Along with the packages will be instructions on how to mail items overseas before Jun1. Holy Family Parish distributed flyers in their bulletins the weekend of May 9 and 10 that outlined how the upcoming procedure will work. The back of the sheet includes a "wish list" of items that includes many additional items lie snacks, juices, phone cards and batteries. In 12 months, 955 packages have been made by the Yellow Ribbon Support Group and shipped at a cost of nearly $9,500.

With funds running low and the cost of sending one package at $10, the group decided to approach local churches to see if any would be willing to tap the generosity of their parishioners to help keep expenses in check.

Daily Herald: October 16, 2003
"Soldier says thanks for support from home"

The Yellow Ribbon Support Group in Palatine over the last several months has sent nearly 600 packages of daily necessities to soldiers overseas.

The donations came from community members young and old. Soldiers have received items such as shampoo, shaving cream, mouth wash, AA batteries and juice boxes. Men and women in the armed forces have received numerous letters of encouragement as well.

Lately support group members have begun to receive letters of appreciation from soldiers overseas.

Recently Joe Osinski a member of the Army's airborne unit, expressed his gratitude to local children for their letters.

"I cannot begin to thank you for all of your support. Thank you. Tell all the kids that the letters help me so much in staying motivated and happy," Osinski wrote. "Things here are really stressful and dangerous, but reading some of the letters lets me take my mind away from everything that is going on out here. I am proud to serve you," he added. Osinski said the days are "long and the nights are full of suspense," but most of the Iraqi people are glad U.S. Soldiers have come to their country.

"Everyday, I see children in the street waving and cheering for us. It gets scary sometimes, but everyone here is focused," he said. "War is nothing like the movies. "Once again, I would like to send my deepest, heart-filled gratitude to your organization and all that you do. Tell all the kids that they are sweet and thoughtful," Osinski wrote. To find out more about the Yellow Ribbon Support Group, call (847) 359-9011.

Daily Herald: May 17, 2003
"Help troops by contributing to support group's fund-raiser"

If you are looking for a way to help U.S. troops stationed overseas, look no further.

The Yellow Ribbon Support Group will host a fund-raiser from noon to 4 p.m. May 18 at the Slice of Chicago, 36. Northwest Hwy. In Palatine. The event will include a pig roast, bands, a silent auction and raffle prizes. The event is supported by Slice of Chicago and Suburban Harley-Davidson.

"The purpose of this fund raiser is to enhance our efforts in replenishing our funds to continue mailing goodwill packages to our military forces," said support group coordinator Patricia McCoy. "It is important for us to let them know we care."

The group receives names of men and women in the military and sends these soldiers packages with everything from letters to toiletries to spices.

Daily Herald: April 3, 2003
"Boxes of items for troops bulge at police station"

Community members over the last week have placed everything from Tabasco sauce to toilet paper in a box in the Palatine police station hallway. At the end of the day, Palatine police officers regularly empty change from their pockets into a collection jar in the department's lobby.

"The support was overwhelming," said Palatine officer Wayne Sunderlin, vice president of the Palatine Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 158. He said over the last week the department has collected seven large boxes of items. He said the monetary donations have not been calculated.

The donated goods and money will go to troops oversees.

"We felt it's the least we can do for our troops."

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 158 has partnered with the Yellow Ribbon Support Group to send care packages to the forces. Sunderlin said the armed forces do not accept unsolicited packages, so police officials and the Yellow Ribbon Support Group have gathered names of soldiers from friends and family members who live in Palatine or neighboring suburbs.

"It started off with people that we know," Sunderlin said.

As the word spreads, more community members are coming in on their own, he said.

"This grandmother came in with a picture of her grandson and gave us the name of her grandson," Sunderlin said.

He said the program makes it easy for community members to contribute.

"There are a lot of people who don't know what these soldiers need and how to go about doing it," Sunderlin said. "We are facilitating it. We felt it's the least we can do for our troops." Items will be packaged and shipped at no charge. You can drop off donations at the police department, 200 E. Wood St. You can submit the soldiers' names to Kathy Garcia, Marine Corps veteran and secretary to the chief of police. For details, call Garcia at (847)359-9011.

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