DIXFIELD, Maine — Ludden Memorial Library librarian Peggy Malley opened the mail Dec. 10 like she usually does. One package, however, didn’t contain books.
Inside was an Army Airborne flag signed by 17 members of the 173rd Special Forces unit in Afghanistan, along with a thank-you card. The library adopted the unit in August.
The library had recently sent the 12 men and five women eight care packages of donated goods, homemade crafts and letters from local schoolchildren.
“We were not expecting this at all,” Malley said of the flag, which now hangs in the library for all to see. “Not at all. I was really surprised and pleased when I opened that [package] and saw that [flag] with all the signatures on it. It’s really awesome.”
In August, the Sun Journal featured the library’s adoption of the unit, then only known as 18 MOS, or military occupation specialty.
Malley said they adopted the Special Forces unit after learning that one of its soldiers is Sgt. Kerry Stafford, the niece of library employee Cathy Leonard of Peru.
Malley said the unit wasn’t getting any care packages or mail because they were in a secret location in Afghanistan. However, Stafford gave her aunt an address where packages and letters could be sent — one that would reach the unit.
Malley said the soldiers “were especially thankful for the knitted caps that some lady in town knitted — woolen caps, you know, to wear under their helmets, because it’s cold there.”
She said the knitter brought in a “whole big bag” of caps, knitted in different Army fatigue colors.
Another person donated “a whole bunch of little Beanie Babies, which they really like a lot,” Malley said.
The library also received “a lot of money” from area people for postage, including money from a Norway woman who read about the adoption story online, she said.
Library staff sent the unit eight “good-sized boxes” full of stuff. They have one last package to send this year.
“They were so happy that we were willing to support them,” Malley said.
In her thank-you card to the Dixfield library, Sgt. Stafford wrote, “Members of the 173D would like to thank you for your constant support.
“Whether it was a card or letter with supportive words, phone cards, snacks, stuffed animals or knit hats, everything was greatly appreciated,” she said.
“Just knowing there are people back in the states [who] are willing to support us in such a public manner is comforting.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services