Eisenhower Library collects for troops, veterans
Mary Ryan (left), children's librarian at the Eisenhower Public Library, and Library Director Ron Stoch organize coats collected at the library. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:30AM
NORRIDGE — Simple items such as socks and toilet paper can make a big difference to those serving overseas.
Electronic hand-held games, comic books, bug repellent and holiday decorations also make for more comfortable surroundings in foreign lands.
To show appreciation to those serving in places such as Afghanistan and Kuwait, the Eisenhower Public Library is teaming up with Naperville-based Operation Support Our Troops to provide comfort packages to as many of the thousands of military personnel deployed overseas as possible.
The library has collected items to send overseas for three years now, Children’s Services Librarian Mary Ryan said.
“The first time we did it, we did it on our own,” she said. “It was incredibly complicated.”
Since then, the library has partnered with the Girl Scouts and Giles School. This year, the library is working with Operation Support Our Troops.
“Many times (service members) don’t have what they need,” said Sue Liston, the organization’s administrative director. “Things like socks, toilet paper.
“These packages make a huge difference,” she added. “It shows the community cares.”
Operation Support Our Troops serves as the middleman, taking the items collected, packaging them in 12-by-12-inch boxes and making sure they reach their destinations intact.
“There’s enough to share,” Liston said.
She also noted rules require the organization ship its comfort packages directly to individual service personnel.
As an incentive, for every item donated, the library is taking $1 off any outstanding fines a patron may have.
A sign-up application is available on the organization’s website, www.osotamerica.org. A full list of items requested is available on both the Norridge and Harwood Heights websites.
Closer to home, the library is working with Rotary International to collect winter coats for homeless veterans.
“Last year, more than 500 veterans lined up looking for coats,” said Ron Stoch, library director and Norridge-Harwood Heights Rotary president. “I’m not sure we even collected 100 (coats).”
This year, the Chicago chapter opened up its coat collection effort to other chapters.
“We want to make sure everyone who shows up gets a coat,” he said.
He noted the drive also needs women’s coats.
“They serve too,” he said.
Eisenhower Public Library’s Veterans Day program has been expanding.
“The first time we did anything, it was very basic,” Ryan said. “We had people bring in photos (of those who have served) and displayed them on the wall.”
That tribute will continue throughout the month.
The library’s story times next week will feature service personnel reading to those gathered for every story time session.
“It’s such a big hit,” Ryan said. “And it’s nice that patrons appreciate the effort we put in.”