Todd Thurston’s dining room is filled with boxes and bags of baby wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, lotions, socks, candy, chewing gum, cans of tuna fish, shampoo, feminine products and many other toiletries.
Thurston collected these everyday items for soldiers in Afghaniston. Specifically, Thurston and his family collected until last Friday, July 13, the items to go to Army medic Zachery “Zach” Silva, 23, and his unit in Afghanistan.
Silva lives a few houses down the street from Thurston on Fireside Drive with his family.
Thurston considers Zach a real American hero. He was wounded a couple of months ago when an Afghan national stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) while leading the unit on a patrol. Five soldiers were severely wounded and some of them lost limbs from the explosion and the ensuing firefight, said Ron Silva, Zach’s father. See the first Patch story.
Zach suffered burns from shards of metal shrapnel that pierced his back. He will get the Purple Heart for his injuries. Silva might also get a Silver Star for his heroism in the ensuing firefight, during which he is credited by the Pentagon with saving numerous lives, his father said.
Zach was home a few weeks ago during a leave. It was soon after Thurston chatted with Zach’s father that he got the idea of collecting the items that soldiers often go without.
Now comes, perhaps, a more difficult task. Thurston has to package and ship the hundreds of bottles and tubes and packages and cartons to Afghanistan. With the delivery, he particularly wants to get an envelope of pictures drawn for him by neighborhood children.
“I never gave it much thought," he said of shipping boxes and bags. "But I just found out that only the U.S. Postal Service can deliver it. And some of it is very heavy to move.”
Translation? Shipping the items will be costly.
“I’m working it out,” said Thurston, who has met with Barrington postal officials. “I don’t want to ask for any more money.”
The expense of shipping the items Thurston and his family collected might cost him “an arm and a leg,” said Ron Silva.
And he doesn’t want that to happen.
“We’ll help him,” he said. “For all the work he’s done, he shouldn’t have to pay out of his pocket.”
No one knows the exact cost of mailing everything yet, said Silva. But he described it "as outrageous.”
“I contacted a retired Marine who has mailed care packages to the troops and he said that they do not receive special deals or treatment when mailing packages to soldiers in a war zone,” Silva said. “How ironic it it that we can’t get stuff shipped to them while we’re sending millions to other countries.”
Thurston will not let that stop him, though.
“I’m working on it,” he said. “I really want to get it to Zach and his unit. I want him to be the most popular guy in his unit for one day.”