NAUGATUCK — For Dolly Lengyel, her holiday tradition centers on making sure the troops serving overseas aren’t forgotten.
Lengyel has been collecting food, toiletries and other items to ship to troops for Christmas for the past 20 years.
“You’re sitting down having a meal and they’re over there having K-rations. It’s kind of lonesome not being home at Christmas,” Lengyel said.
Boxes are stacked in the back of Lengyel’s nail salon, Personal Pampering on Church Street, ready to be filled. Each box is labeled with what will soon be inside it, such as candy, toiletries and Ramen Noodles.
This year Lengyel has not seen nearly as many donations compared to previous years.
Lengyel said last year she sent 80, 70-pound boxes of items out to the troops.
“This time of year I usually have a lot more, but the economy is so bad. There’s a lot of people without jobs and there are a lot of people who are struggling from one paycheck to another. And I totally understand that,” Lengyel said. “There’s a lot of people who will bring one or two things down, and, you know what, at least that shows that they care. Even if they bring that one thing down. It doesn’t matter how big or small.”
Lengyel said one item she is in need of is socks. She added with winter coming the soldiers will also need hand warmers.
“These are like gold,” Lengyel said as she held up packages of hand warmers.
To help raise money this year, Lengyel is also selling T-shirts. The shirts, which say “Leave no soldier unloved,” can be purchased for $13 at the salon or during Naugatuck’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 9 to kickoff the holiday season. Lengyel will also be collecting donations during the ceremony.
The soldiers are always grateful for the packages, Lengyel said.
“It’s a good feeling. It’s the thank you cards you get afterwards. They’re from the heart,” Lengyel said.
For more information or to donate, call Lengyel at (203) 729-3328.