Airman 1st Class Timothy Schwarz.

CHESTER SPRINGS PA – U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy P. Schwarz, stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, offers holiday greetings to his mother, Theresa Schwarz of Chester Springs PA,in this video produced by the Joint Hometown News Service and released for distribution this month (December 2010).

Editor’s Note: For a second consecutive year, The Post is proud to have been selected by the San Antonio TX-based JHNS to carry video holiday greetings from U.S. Armed Forces troops to their family members who live within 25 miles of Pottstown PA. None of the greetings made available this year were from servicemen or women with ties to Lower Pottsgrove or Limerick (PA) townships, or the Borough of Pottstown. We know, however, that residents of our coverage areas join families across the nation in thanking our troops for their service, and wishing them and their families the happiest of holidays.

COLLEGEVILLE PA – Byron H. Muhlenberg, the son of Deane and Becky Muhlenberg of Morgan Lane, Collegeville PA, and a 2010 graduate of The Hill School, has entered basic cadet training at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs CO. He is preparing for his first academic year at the academy.

The six-week, two-phase orientation program must be successfully completed by cadets before they can enter their freshman year. It prepares men and women to meet the rigorous mental and physical challenges experienced by new cadets.

During the program, cadet trainees are prepared to adjust from civilian to military life and disciplines, and learn proper wear of their uniform, saluting policies and procedures, drill and ceremony, marching, and living quarters standards. They then train outdoors, living in tents while learning to function in field conditions.

Cadets apply and practice team work, cohesion and learn to deal with physically and mentally demanding situations.  They complete obstacle, confidence, assault, and leadership reaction courses, and participate in a rescue mission termed Operation Warrior.

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SPRING CITY PA – A ground-breaking ceremony for the new 120-bed community living facility to be built at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Veterans Center has been scheduled for July 9 (2010; Friday) at 10 a.m. at the center, 1 Veterans Dr., Spring City PA. the event is free and open to the public.

The state’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Jessica L. Wright, will preside during the ceremony.

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SPRING CITY PA – Soldiers of the 56th Stryker Brigade housed at the Spring City Armory will be recognized June 12 (2010; Saturday) for their service in Operation Iraq Freedom, Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Michael Murphy announced Tuesday (June 1). The recognition ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the armory, Armory Dr., Spring City PA.

Participants in the Pottstown Area Joint Veterans Council are anticipated to attend, and the event also is open to the public. The council was instrumental, Murphy said, in organizing and coordinating donations of a variety of goods to be used by brigade soldiers during their Iraq tour. He reported those “care packages” have already arrived.

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by Diane H. VanDyke

SPRING CITY PA – Recently several students from Montgomery County Community College met with children at Spring City Elementary School to ask for their help in extending some joy to soldiers currently serving in the military.

The children’s responses were overwhelming.

The winning picture, center, in Spring City Elementary School's "Sunshine For Soldiers" project, was created by fourth-grader Matt Taylor. Runner-up winners are, clockwise from top left, Kaytlin Rotondi, Taylor Santiago, Ryan Larkins, and Daniel Kuklinski. Many of the students wrote messages thanking soldiers for their bravery and courage.

For the “Sunshine for Soldiers” project, the children in kindergarten through fourth grade created pictures depicting what a soldier means to them. Many drew pictures of helicopters, soldiers and tanks and used red, white and blue colors. Their heartfelt, hand-printed messages included words of thanks, praise for the soldiers’ courage and bravery and appreciation for keeping them and our country safe.

This is the second year members of Doug’s Corner, a community-service group located at the college’s West Campus in Pottstown, have done such a project with the elementary school.

“The children enjoy when we present the project, because we have soldiers from the Army National Guard and teachers who are veterans dress in their military attire and answer questions,” said club president Krysta DiSabatino. “They ask a lot of questions.”

As an extra incentive, the club awarded prizes to five students who drew the best pictures. Sergeant First Class David Weller, Staff Sergeant Tiffany Mondragon, Private First Class Anthony Heimback and reading specialist Marylu Onorato served as judges. SFC Weller and Private First Class Jonathan Dotterer fielded the children’s questions.

Fourth grader Matt Taylor won first prize, which included a Toys ‘R Us gift card and a pizza party for his class. The four runner-up winners, who each received a gift card, are Kaytlin Rotondi, Daniel Kuklinski, Taylor Santiago and Ryan Larkins. A total of 54 students participated; some created more than one picture.

Sunshine for Soldiers is only one of several projects that members of Doug’s Corner host throughout the year. They also:

  • Assisted last fall with the Pottstown YMCA Halloween Safe House;
  • Went trick or treating for canned goods and non-perishable items to fill about 70 bags for the Jerusalem Pantry in Schwenksville;
  • Collected signed holiday cards to send to the troops;
  • Participated with The (Pottstown PA) Mercury’s Operation Holiday;
  • Provided an informational table during the college’s Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week;
  • Assisted with the Stuff-A-Plush program; and
  • Held a book swap.

Currently, club members are planning several events for Earth Day, including bingo, posters and a nature walk.

The group consists of a few dedicated students. In addition to DiSabatino, Jessica Judyski serves as vice president, Liz Wilson as secretary, and Candance Hageter as treasurer. Cynthia Murphy, college administrative assistant for Career Services and Student Leadership and Involvement, is the adviser and has worked with the group since its inception seven years ago.

“It started with four students during their first semester here,” Murphy said. “They wanted to help with The (Pottstown PA) Mercury’s Operation Holiday, which raises money for needy families at Christmas time. They set up a table in the lobby, and within four days, they raised more than $400.”

Unlike some other student clubs, Doug’s Corner has no requirements to become a member. Any student who wants to do community service is welcomed.

“Over the years, the club’s membership has fluctuated from a few students to as many as 10 to 15 members,” Murphy said. “They’ve done numerous fundraisers for a variety of organizations and causes, such as the Hurricane Katrina relief, American Cancer Society, Pottstown Cluster Outreach, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Open Door Pantry.”

The club was named after one of the founding teens, Doug Stanley. The initial members, David Woodley, Jerry Schwartz and Sheena Myers, met in the corner of the lobby to make their plans.

“It’s been great being associated with them,” Murphy said. “The students are good people, who are very dedicated to helping others.”

Photo by Diane H. VanDyke

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PHOENIXVILLE PA – “Making Assisted Living Affordable,” a presentation by Barbara Sternberg of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, will be held Thursday (April 15, 2010) from 6-8 p.m. at Spring Mill Senior Living, 3000 Balfour Cir., Phoenixville PA. The talk is free and open to the public.

Soup, sandwiches and refreshments will be provided. Reservations are requested. For more information, call 610-933-7675.

Sternberg will specifically focus on the Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Benefit, which can help wartime veterans and their surviving spouses supplement the costs of assisted living.

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WEST CHESTER PA – U.S. Armed Forces veterans, as well as those who appreciate the jobs done by members of the military – including two residents of Gilbertsville PA and two more from Limerick PA – were among 15 writers who paid online tributes late last week (April 2, 2010) to Army 1st Lt. John Paul Snook of West Chester PA.

Snook came home from Afghanistan for a mid-deployment break to visit his family. Members of the Warriors Watch Forums were given somewhat short notice of his return, but turned out in person and online to “give him a Welcome Home he won’t soon forget,” as one wrote.

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