As soldiers endure a bitterly cold and potentially record-breaking Afghan winter, one local man has embarked on a mission to help keep their fingers and toes toasty.
Burt Sappenfield started a collection drive for hand and toe warmers that can be stuffed into gloves and boots to add an extra feeling of warmth. With the area’s help to collect the supplies, he can mail packages directly to the troops camped in the highest and coldest Afghanistan mountains.
In December, another program created by Sappenfield, Santa for Soldiers, sent holiday care packages to the troops. From e-mails he received, soldiers making long patrols or keeping night guard in freezing temperatures said they were “ecstatic” to receive the hand warmers.
The drive, called Operation Hand-Warmers, has sent five cases of hand warmers in its first two weeks. Sappenfield said the collection will continue for three more weeks.
Donations to troops have fallen off as the war continues, Sappenfield said, making the collection for hand warmers critical as winter temperatures in the Afghanistan mountains might not warm up until late April or May.
“We’ve got the soldiers over there still doing what we’re telling them to do. They’re still serving their country,” he said. “If this had been 10 years ago, we would have had so much support because it was fresh in our minds.”