April 25, 2018
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Help bring in Harlem Rockets, support troops

By Joni Averill

Here is something you and your family can do that not only will be a lot of fun, but also will help make life a little better for nearly 200 troops serving in Afghanistan.

Wanda Wood of Prospect needs to sell a minimum of 100 tickets for the Harlem Rockets to come to Maine and participate in a very special basketball game against the Castine Stars & Stripes.

Of course, she’d like to sell a lot more tickets than that: 100 is just the minimum for the game scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, at the Maine Maritime Academy Gymnasium in Castine.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students, and are available from Wanda at Castine Realty and at Castine Variety, Castine Town Hall in Emerson Hall, The Brick House restaurant in Searsport or at the door.

Advance tickets also can be obtained by calling Wanda at 326-9392 or 664-3836.

Wanda is raising the funds to send care packages to members of her son’s troop, which is stationed in Herat, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Ryan Hand is a Bucksport High School graduate now serving his 11th year in the U.S. Army.

He is a medic with the Seventh Squadron 10th United States Cavalry Armored Reconnaissance Squadron in the 1st Brigade Combat Team assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, also known as Troop 7-10th CAV, out of Fort Carson, Colo., where his wife and 3-year-old son live.

This is Ryan’s third tour of duty, his mother told me.

He served one year in Iraq and one year in Korea before this assignment.

Deployed in July and stationed in Afghanistan for a year, his mother said Ryan “contacted me shortly after they arrived and asked if I could get care packages over to them.”

“They are in a very desolate area, and every-day living is extremely difficult.”

Wanda said American Legion Post No. 43 of Belfast “has agreed to sponsor me and help in any way” it can, and that her first fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner at The Brick House restaurant, netted more than $850 for this special project.

Wanda, her son, Benjamin Gray and her best friend, Susan Macomber, put the care packages together monthly.

Benjamin, by the way, was in the military for nine years. He is now a student at Maine Maritime Academy while also serving as Castine’s harbor master.

The care packages the trio assembles include anything from hand warmers to baby wipes, Woolite detergent because the troops don’t have hot water for laundry, lots of snacks, razor blades and hygiene products for both men and women.

“They are so thrilled to have this support,” Wanda told me.

She also bakes cookies for the troops but noted that putting these care packages together is quite a bit different from what she was used to in the past.

“I’ve always sent care packages to my boys, but never to a whole troop!”

That is why Wanda is so grateful for the continued support of members of the Belfast American Legion as well as community members, MMA women’s basketball coach Craig Dagan and MMA faculty and staff who have agreed to take the court against the Harlem Rockets, who feature “Showtime Basketball.”

If you can attend the game, there is no doubt you will enjoy it, and you can take pride in the fact you are supporting our troops in Afghanistan.

If you cannot attend, perhaps you can purchase a ticket and give it to a friend or someone with military connections, or just make a donation to help fill those care packages.


Nelson Jewell of Cumulus Broadcasting reminds you starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, “The Kid” of radio station Z-107.3 FM will be broadcasting live outside the Brewer Shopping Center until he raises 2,010 turkeys for Mamma Ministries and area food cupboards, and your help is needed to “Free the Z!”

You can either drop off a turkey at that location or make a $10 cash donation to help feed the needy this Thanksgiving.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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