Comfort packages assembled for troops in memory of Marine killed in action in 2010
Volunteers gathered in an Arlington Heights bowling alley for the fourth consecutive day Friday to assemble comfort packages for overseas troops in memory of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James Bray Stack, who was killed in action in 2010.
Wearing masks and taking other safety precautions, the Help USA Troops volunteers worked in the middle of Beverly Lanes to finish filling what's expected to be about 500 boxes with personal hygiene items, pocket-size food and snacks, powdered drinks, cards of thanks and more.
Donations were dropped off at collection points across Arlington Heights, including police headquarters. Police stations in Buffalo Grove and Barrington also were drop-off locations.
Stack's mother-in-law, Dawn Hedrick of Arlington Heights, who heads the nonprofit Help USA Troops, said the organization had planned to ship 1,500 to 1,700 packages to the military before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was happy to collect enough donations for something to send this year.
"I just want, as a citizen of the United States, for (people) to support the troops," Hedrick said during a break Friday. "I don't think we support them enough as a country. ... It's not that much to send a granola bar or some stuff like that, but it means something to them."
Stack, 20, of Arlington Heights, was killed Nov. 10, 2010, in southern Afghanistan.
His 3rd Battalion/5th Regiment suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the war up to that time. Stack, a rifleman, was on foot patrol when he was shot and killed, leaving behind his wife, Katie, and a 1-year-old girl, Mikayla.
Katie and Mikayla, now 10, were among those who worked to assemble the packages in Beverly Lanes. Help USA Troops was founded in 2011.
"Personally, it means a lot, because it is in my husband's name," said Katie Stack, who was 19 when she lost the man who also was her high school sweetheart. "Having that as the foundation of it just means a significant amount, because people still care and the people still take time out of their days to honor my husband and provide for our troops."