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Charity a World Away

ESSEX Several residents of Essex and Willsboro, with the help of a local soldier, are taking on the cause of children who live thousands of miles away. A handful of volunteers are collecting donations of clothing, shoes, hygiene items, toys, food and water to send to impoverished children in Afghanistan. Monetary donations to offset the cost of postage and other needed items are also being accepted. The packages are sent to Sgt. Calvin Cumm, a resident of Essex who is currently stationed with the Army National Guard in Afghanistan as a convoy commander. Cumm then distributes the supplies to eight different villages throughout Afghanistan as part of the humanitarian aid shipments that he helps oversee. Cumm began requesting the donations from his family shortly after arriving in Afghanistan in early April. Lisa Cumm, his wife, reflected his concern for the children there and enlisted the help of other people in their community. Theres garbage everywhere, Lisa said, recounting stories she heard about poor living conditions in Afghanistan from her husband overseas. The kids in the villages are even worse off than the ones in the orphanages. Lisa said Calvin would rather receive donations for the children than a personal care package. It makes him feel better to give something to a child... She said. There wouldnt be a program like this without him, said Norma Goff, a volunteer who has been helping to pack and send donations. Since the packages are sent through an APO address to Cumm, the postage is less expensive than it would otherwise be, she explained. Goff also helped to gather similar donations when her son, Todd, was stationed in Afghanistan in 2004. According to her, 32 cases of donated supplies have already been sent to Calvin. People have been very generous, she said. Calvin is touched by the generosity of people in his hometown. In a letter he thanked volunteers for sending supplies and explained that, though he is stationed with men from various large cities, donations from Essex are unmatched. Our small mountain community way up in the Adirondacks has given, by far, the most that I have witnessed, and that means a lot to me, he wrote. People or businesses wishing to donate may drop off items at the Essex Town Hall or Essex Community Church. Those wishing to donate money may make their tax-deductible checks payable to Essex Community Church. Used items are welcome but should be in fair condition. Books and toys that require batteries are discouraged.

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