AP NEWS

Greenwich firefighters send care packages to overseas troops

February 21, 2019

GREENWICH — U.S. troops deployed overseas are enjoying some of the comforts of home, thanks to members of the Local 1042 union of Greenwich firefighters.

A committee led by firefighter Mike Varanelli sold RED — “remember everyone deployed” — shirts to firefighters in the union, who wore them every Friday. The sales raised a total of $2,500, which was used to purchase food and supplies for troops, and paid for the shipping costs to send the packages overseas.

Most recently, they sent care packages for a platoon of 30 to 40 people in a motor transport unit in the Middle East.

“This hit close to home,” Varanelli said. “It was the unit of one of our member’s stepdaughter’s unit.”

The stepdaughter is Sgt. Martina E. Perrorazio, who is related to firefighter Jimmy Stashenko.

A handful of the firefighters served in Afghanistan, and a recently retired firefighter is a Vietnam veteran, so these men know the “ins and outs” of what they can send, Varanelli said.

“It helps alleviate that anxiety of not being home,” he said.

The biggest cost is paying to ship a 40- to 50-pound box, Varanelli said. The union sent the first wave in September to a unit of 30 in South America.

A lot of fire departments in the state and the nation are doing similar efforts, Varanelli said.

The first step was seeing how much could be collected from members, and the next will be to do public outreach and sell shirts to the community, he said.

“We’d like to keep it going, we’d like to support our troops and help those who help us, who help serve our communities,” Varanelli said.

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact.com