FES­TIVE JOY FOR TROOPS

Vet­er­ans give back to our troops

Maroochy Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

WHILE the rest of the world cel­e­brates the fes­tive sea­son, Len Thomp­son knows too well the harsh re­al­ity of spend­ing Christ­mas Day in a war zone.

Hud­dled in the Viet­nam bush in 1969, the vet­eran said it was “just another day” un­til he re­ceived a thought­ful care pack­age from his lo­cal RSL.

It was this first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence that moved Mr Thomp­son to vol­un­teer his time along­side the Ma­roochy­dore RSL in its an­nual care pack­age drop for de­fence per­son­nel.

About 10 volunteers packed 40 spe­cial boxes on Mon­day, ready to be shipped to troops across the Mid­dle East, North Africa and the South Pa­cific for those who couldn’t make it home on Christ­mas Day.

Ma­roochy­dore RSL vet­eran ser­vices man­ager Mark Read­ing said the pack­ages were a small way of thank­ing those who made the sac­ri­fice for their coun­try.

“I’ve also been a re­cip­i­ent of care pack­ages and you do feel that ex­tra smile on your face when you open them,” Mr Read­ing said.

In its fifth year of op­er­a­tion, the 2018 Aus­tralian-themed pack­ages con­tain Vegemite, Tic Tacs, Un­cle Toby’s snacks, Life Savers and other items, in­clud­ing hy­giene and read­ing ma­te­ri­als.

“We are bring­ing Aus­tralia to them,” Mr Read­ing said.

Mr Thomp­son said although he didn’t re­mem­ber what was in his care pack­age, he would never for­get the way it made him feel.

“It re­ally does make a dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“I was just blown away.

“I didn’t re­alise they even knew I was over there.”

The Ma­roochy­dore RSL funds and packs care pack­ages twice a year to be sent to Aus­tralian de­fence per­son­nel right around the globe.

PHOTO: WAR­REN LYNAM

FES­TIVE SPIRIT: Ma­roochy RSL staff, in­clud­ing Sorelle Goulding, and volunteers pack Christ­mas care pack­ages to send to Aus­tralian troops serv­ing overseas.

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