Massachusetts Teen Supports Deployed Troops

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2006 - Last week, a Brewster, Mass., teen marked a milestone in his support of U.S. troops deployed overseas.

Dylan DeSilva, 13, mailed off the 1,000th care package from his organization, "Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops." The package went to a Marine first sergeant in Iraq who will distribute the various toiletries and snacks inside to the 1,200 Marines in his company.

DeSilva founded Cap Cod Cares for Our Troops two years ago, taking the idea from a Boy Scout project. Since then, he has relied on donations and the efforts of volunteers to send packages to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Alaska and Djibouti.

"It's important to show the soldiers, Marines, Air Force and (Navy) that we care for them and that they have support," DeSilva said during a visit to Washington, D.C., yesterday.

DeSilva can send as many as 30 packages a week, which take about five hours to pack and an hour and a half to mail, he said. The packages usually include a bag of toiletries, two bags of snacks, socks, flashlights, powdered drink mixes, cards from children, and blank cards for the soldier to write home with.

DeSilva's organization also sends about two packages a week filled with toys for Iraqi children, he said. He recently sent a box full of soccer balls and has sent stuffed animals and other toys.

To get names and addresses of servicemembers, DeSilva relies on referrals from other troops who have received his packages, battalion commanders and chaplains, he said. He hears back from most of the troops who get his packages, he said, and many of them send photos.

In May, DeSilva graduated at the top of his class in the Young Marines program. He said he plans on joining the Marine Corps, but doesn't know yet what he will specialize in.

DeSilva is in D.C. with his mother, Michelle DeSilva, and congressional candidate Jeff Beatty, of Harwich, Mass., who decided to reward DeSilva with the trip after hearing of his efforts. So far, they have attended a Washington Redskins football game, toured the Capitol building, and toured the Pentagon.

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