PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Mid-County Chamber of Commerce is seeking donations of money and gift items for local National Guardsmen stationed in Afghanistan.
Part of the proceeds also will go to help the dependents of servicemen and for a Christmas Party scheduled for Dec. 3 at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 2801 Grand Ave.
Michael J. Monahan, the chamber’s business assistant specialist and a retired U.S. Army colonel, said many individuals and businesses are standing behind National Guardsmen called to active duty.
Pinellas County soldiers based at the center left in two waves earlier this year. They were deployed for 18 months of training and combat duty, leaving behind careers and families.
Most received training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.
“The business community has been wonderful in supporting our troops,” Monahan said. “They have made generous donations of money and supplies.”
Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Dunkin’ Donuts, Superior Auto Body and others provided gift cards, prepaid telephone calling cards and food.
“Last March we fed 3,000 soldiers and their loved ones prior to deployment,” Monahan said. “That would not have been possible without the support of individuals and businessmen.”
The chamber also plans to send gift boxes of clothing, nonperishable food, magazines and personal items to Afghanistan.
“We can’t send them now because local guardsmen and women have no permanent base camps,” Monahan said.
Also involved with the troop support mission is Susan Perryman, wife of Brig. Gen. Mitchell Perryman, commander of the 53rd Separate Infantry Brigade of the Florida National Guard.
About 900 of the 4,000 troops in Afghanistan under Perryman’s command are from Pinellas County.
Monetary donations should be sent to the chamber office at Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, FL 33781. Toys, clothing and other items can be dropped off at the Grand Avenue reserve center. Call Monahan at 544-4777.