For the past three years Port Washington Schools have been collecting Halloween candy and sending it to deployed soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. Originally begun at Sousa Elementary School in 2004, the Treats for Troops program has expanded to include Daly, Manorhaven, South Salem and Guggenheim elementary schools and Weber Middle School. Each school was transformed into a candy store for a day, as parents and children sorted through donated bags of candy. Halloween cards sending good wishes and signed by Port students were included in every candy-filled box. This year, more than 40 boxes -- filled with over 800 pounds of candy -- were sent overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places worldwide. The candy inside has made its way to our military personnel, U.S. Embassy employees, and local children. Reports so far from the field indicate the program is a huge success.
Treats for Troops is a program sponsored by the community outreach committees of the Home and School Associations (HSA) and Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) at each school. The community outreach committees at the schools organize, collect and package the non-chocolate candy donated by the students who received it when trick-or-treating on Halloween. The recipients for the packages all have a connection to Port Washington - a deployed resident, friend or family member. PFC Sean Chaudhry, older brother of Salem Elementary School's fifth-grade student, Rami Chaudhry, is stationed in Iraq. Salem sent four of their twelve candy boxes to Sean's unit for him to share with his friends. Sousa's donations were sent to family members of two teaching assistants and Navy Reservist Lieutenant John Nicholson, currently serving in Iraq. Lieutenant Nicholson distributed the candy to the joint forces hospital, the U.S. embassy and local families in Baghdad. PFC Edward Brennan, serving at Camp Blue Diamond in Iraq, a cousin of Annie, Robbie and Madeline Connors of Daly School, has given out several hundred pounds of candy to his company there.
Mary Cavallaro, mother of four schoolchildren, helps coordinate the mailings each year and is amazed how much the program has grown from about six boxes in 2004 to over 40 this year. "Its nice to see the overwhelming support for this program each year - the response by the students and the community reminds those deployed that we have not forgotten about them. What a sweet way to say thanks!" Mary's husband, Tony Cavallaro, an Army officer who is now retired, was deployed when their son Michael was in kindergarten and sent to Iraq for 13 and a-half months. When he returned, he was able to help this outreach effort with advice and contacts. The Port Washington Post Office staff are enthusiastic about providing help to ship all the packages. The children wholeheartedly participate in this project and are happy to share their sweets with those who weren't able to Trick or Treat this Halloween.