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Providing A Taste Of Home

Operation S.O.S. hits 10th year.
ALTOONA - Operation S.O.S has been going on for a decade now, and as hundreds of volunteers packed boxes Tuesday night, former and current service members and their families were on hand to show their appreciation.
 
Nearly 500 total all filled with food and other reminders of home to send to men and women serving overseas.
 
“The community all coming together to support a good cause and without the military we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy now so we can't thank our military enough,” Operation S.O.S. Coordinator Gary Clare says.
 
Gary Clare started Operation S.O.S. ten years ago.
 
Brett Shaw was one of the first to receive them, while serving in Iraq eight years ago.
 
 “All we know is boxes and boxes and boxes started arriving and we didn't know what to do with them so we held them until Christmas morning,” Army Reserves Veteran Brett Shaw says.
 
Now he's paying it forward.
 
“I try to come back every year and give back the best I can,” Shaw says.
 
Deborah Scully's daughter will be spending the holidays with the army in Afghanistan.
 
 “I'm looking at what's being packed. It's everything she's been asking for and they're going to be blessed,” Deborah Scully says.
 
With more and more troops coming back from deployment as U.S. forces start to pull out overseas, Clare hopes one day these packages aren't needed.
 
But he doesn't see that happening soon.
 
“Realistically, I think that there will be troops deployed throughout the world and as long as they're there we are going to keep them supplied with a little bit of love and support from back home,” Clare says.
 
And that's something Deborah can't wait for her daughter to experience this Christmas.
 
“I took a couple pictures to send to her but until it gets there and this time of the year and not having family, she's going to feel loved,” Deborah says.
 
The nearly 500 packages will go out to 3 units overseas. Two in Afghanistan and one in Okinawa, Japan. Clare, who is a veteran himself, says the pictures back each year from the troops is what makes the months of preparation that led into Tuesday night worth it.

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