NFA, Class of 2001.
MARINE GYSGT LUIS A. MERCADO JR.
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W e l c o m e
Posted May. 22, 2017
New Windsor mom, Luz Mercado, started the foundation, ÒSupport Our Heroes, when her son Marine GYSGT Luis Mercado Jr. was stationed in Iraq and started to share items from packages his mom sent him to fellow soldiers who told him of some of the simple pleasures they were missing from home.
Lucy Mercado, New Windsor, is preparing to ship items to military service members as part of her foundation, Support Our Heroes. She supports three platoons in Afghanistan.
Drive to help troops runs dry
Many terrible things have been happening here, he writes
By Yaika Garcia
New Windsor - Luz Mercado, founder and main operator of the nonprofit Support Our Heroes program that collects and mails supplies to the troops overseas, is finding it quite challenging to fulfill her promise to continue her efforts until every troop gets back home.
Although donations have not dried up altogether, Mercado notices that the response has been dwindling. A donation box housed at ShopRite in Vails Gate has been empty for the last three to four weeks.
"It has been empty, even during Thanksgiving. I know, I check it every couple of days," Mercado said.
She pleads for as much community support as she can.
"We need help; maybe people are forgetting with all that's happening," she said.
The Support Our Heroes program was founded in 2004 after Mercado saw the need to supply her son, Marine Sgt. Luis Mercado Jr., and his platoon of 300 men and women with everyday necessities such as socks, personal hygiene and feminine products, as well as goodies such as Powerbars for a much-needed pick-me-up during 14-hour shifts in blazing weather. The program has even sent small toys for Iraqi children.
"These are some things that we take for granted, but they picture it as a blessing. We're giving nothing (compared) to what they're giving us," Mercado said.
Perhaps, she thinks, the focus on the troops may have been put on the back burner because of distractions, Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, holiday celebration preparations and the upcoming tsunami anniversary.
Either way, she chooses to remain positive, especially after being given proof that good things come to those who wait. Wanda Vanderveer, a Price Chopper employee, recently donated 50 packs of three-pair socks out of her own paycheck and has given Mercado another reason to smile.
"Isn't that great?" she asked. "It's like a thank-you."
For the time being, Mercado will focus on sending the remaining donations that are stored in her basement while she waits to receive future ones. She invites the community to help raise funds for shipping so this mission of love and appreciation can continue.
"We have stuff in the garage, but no money for shipping - it goes like water. Thirty-forty dollars are spent on shipping a small box via shipping priority; if it's not shipped priority, then they won't receive it soon or at all," she says.
Mercado will definitely be able to count her blessings today, Christmas Eve. Her son came back this year and is working as a drill instructor in South Carolina. She's also overjoyed to learn that her younger son is not interested in the military and is looking toward a career in engineering.
"I don't think I'd be able to take it twice," she said.
But even with that in mind, she finds it hard to count her blessings in full. She says she won't until every soldier comes back home safely. It will be then that her program efforts will come to a close. But until that time comes, she begs our community to reflect.
"My son's back, but this is for my son's platoon," she says. "Just because my son is back, I'm not going to stop. Who's to say that one of the guys that looked after my son isn't still there. These guys are wondering if they're going to wake up tomorrow. It's up to you to decide what you want to do."
Monetary donations can be sent to Support Our Heroes, 18 Windsor Square Drive, New Windsor 12553. For more information, visit supportourheroes.net.
Ricardo Rios, Jr.