NAUGATUCK — “Naugatuck supports our troops.” That’s the message the Naugatuck firefighters are sending every Friday when they sport red T-shirts to raise money for local troops oversees.
Naugatuck firefighters paid $25 each for “NFD supports our troops” shirts they started wearing Memorial Day weekend, according to Local 1219 President Jim Ricci. The union is also selling shirts to the public for $15 with “Naugatuck supports our troops,” printed on the back.
The money will go to buy creature comforts, like snacks and socks, for the 14 members of Division 1/3 Bravo Company of the U. S. Marines. One of the members of the company, Cpl. James Thurston, is the son of Gail Thurston, who works in the Naugatuck Police Department.
The firefighters have sold over 100 shirts so far, according to Ricci, who donated the first $500 raised thus far to Gail Thurston earlier this month.
“Participation has been overwhelming,” Ricci said.
Ricci said Deputy Chief Ellen Murray brought up the idea after the Naugatuck Human Resources department sent out a notice asking for donations for the Marines.
The squad has been serving in Afghanistan since April and is currently scheduled to come home in December, according to Gail.
Gail said she would use the money to purchase items on a list her son made before he left. It takes about a month for the items to arrive at the company’s location, she said. Gail said she buys all the items in bulk and spaces packages out so the troops will receive one box per week.
“My son told me it’s such a moral booster when they receive these boxes from home because it means so much to them,” Gail said. “When they’re over there it really makes a difference when they know that people at home are thinking of them.”
She has already sent over 30 boxes.
“The people of Naugatuck have been very, very generous,” Gail said.
In addition to the firefighter’s contributions, Gail’s co-workers at the police department put together a letter to send to everyone on the borough payroll. The police union also gave a donation to buy supplies and the second shift at police department took up a collection to buy one of each thing on list of supplies, Gail said.
She said she was thrilled when the fire union took it one step further.
James has been in the Marines for four years and has a year and a half left on his first enrollment, Gail said. His company has been stationed in Hawaii and has already traveled to Cuba, Israel and Spain.
Gail said her son’s squad is on patrol in villages, trying to blend with the village people and working with Afghani army. She said the hardest thing for him is the weather, which is currently around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, but expected to get up to 135 in July and August.
Gail said she can’t talk to her son on the phone, but communicates with him about once a week via e-mail. James also uses Facebook to stay in touch with friends, she said.
“I really do appreciate everything the fire department did for him,” Gail said.
Anybody interested in purchasing a shirt can e-mail Ricci at Pres1219@sbcglobal.net.