Port Henry Andrew LaVallie admits there may have been times he didn’t hold the town of Moriah in high esteem.
That’s certainly changed for the Ticonderoga soldier, who is now serving in Afghanistan. That’s because one-time archrival Moriah has come to the aid of the former Ti High Sentinel athlete.
We Love Our Troops, a group of Moriah residents, have sent three boxes of food, snacks and other items to LaVallie, an Army second lieutenant.
“Though I have thought of you as a rival for six years of my life — basketball, baseball and, of course, football — words can not explain what it meant to me to receive a package from what I considered to be the whole town,” LaVallie wrote in a letter addressed “Town of Moriah, aka Vikings.”
“The candy and food was quickly given out to my platoon of 19 soldiers,” he wrote. “Thank you for taking the time out of your day for thinking about us overseas. Things like this help my soldiers to stay positive and true.”
In his thank you note, LaVallie offered condolences to the community on the death of SSgt. Dain Venne. The Port Henry soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last Nov. 3.
In closing, LaVallie couldn’t resist taking a stab at his former rival Moriah Vikings.
“Moriah, thank you again and know I’ll be wearing my purple and white (Ti High school colors), hoping we continue to beat your red and white.”
We Love Our Troops is coordinated by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, located in Port Henry. It collected money from Moriah residents to buy items for troops in Afghanistan and used other donations to pay for shipping.
Janet Denney and Barb Brassard head up the We Love Our Troops effort.
“Starting last October we started collecting donations of food from the town of Moriah to send to Luke Boyle, who is stationed in Afghanistan and is from Moriah,” Denney explained. “A collection bin was located at the Moriah town hall. Each package costs $13.84 to send so we had collection tins at Boyea’s and Frank’s Knotty Pine to help cover the cost of postage. Stewart’s also donated $200 for postage.”
The program started with Boyle, but has since expanded. Besides Boyle, a Marine, and LaVallie, Breanna Hastings, a former Moriah resident serving in Afghanistan, has received packages. Packages have also been sent to members of Venne’s unit in his memory and two “adopt-a-soldiers.”
Although LaVallie is from Ticonderoga, Denney pointed out his father is a Mineville native and he has relatives in the community.
More than 60 packages have been shipped by We Love Our Troops.