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Health care employees help send soldiers care packages

Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber’s Planetree, VeteranCare and the Helping Hands Committees have put together holiday care packages to send to military personnel who are stationed in Afghanistan.

Kim Oleksa, the foundation’s director, said the three large boxes included everything from personal care supplies to snacks that were donated by employees and people using the hospital.

“We sent out a request to the employees via e-mail asking for donations,” she said. “We also set up boxes throughout the hospital where people could donate items.”

She said the boxes also included a DVD made by two hospital employees, Rachel Allen and Adam Stahl, that featured video taped well wishes and comedy routines from the hospital staff.

“The video was made within the hospital thanking the troops for their service but we also had a lot of comedy stuff, like a Santa in camouflage,” Oleksa said. “What was moving on the DVD were the emotional greetings from those who have loved ones either stationed overseas or were overseas last year at this time. Their greetings were pretty emotional.”

The money to pay for the postage came from Windber Medical Center’s Helping Hands Committee that Oleksa described as a “charity within the hospital.” She said employees voluntarily donate a certain amount of money from their pay toward the charity.

“We do things like this or even help out needy families by buying gift certificates,” she said. “Helping Hands is run by the employees of the hospital.”