By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – In 1962, then Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev had his military’s missiles placed in Cuba. With the lives of millions of Americans in danger, the Cuban missile crisis was ultimately resolved peacefully by United States President John F. Kennedy and brave Americans who served in the United States Navy. Although he humbly avoids accolades, Westborough veteran John Gallinagh was one of those brave Americans.
Gallinagh is now on the Westborough Veterans Advisory Board (WVAB). And, along with the rest of the board, he’s been supporting our troops through a recent effort to put together nearly 200 care packages. The packages will be sent to Army National Guard units, comprised mostly of soldiers from Massachusetts, who will be deployed overseas sometime in the near future.
“I’m a veteran, and my son is a veteran also, and we felt it was important to be doing something,” explained Gallinagh, who said that the other WVAB members embraced the idea of the drive when he proposed it to them.
“[Those serving] really like to get something from home,” he added.
Throughout February and March, people picked up, filled and returned boxes to one of the four pick-up and drop-off locations – the WVAB (in Town Hall), Westborough Public Library, Westborough TV and the First United Methodist Church. The items that fill the care packages include personal care items, snacks, candy, reading and writing materials, puzzle books, socks, sunglasses, DVDs and encouraging notes.
Although the care packages were originally intended for a battalion that’s currently serving in the Middle East, Gallinagh learned that those troops will be returning earlier than expected. But since other troops will be deployed soon, the packages will be shipped to them after deployment. The drive will continue until then.
In the meantime, Gallinagh is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Companies, including Accelerated Strength and Balance and MetroWest Community Federal Credit Union, have sponsored many care packages. In addition to the WVAB and individuals, the Westborough Civic Club, Westborough Senior Center Supporters and Westborough chapters of the Knights of Columbus, Lions Club and Rotary have been eager to help as well. Students have also been vital to the drive’s success. Cub Scouts wrote notes that will be included in the packages, and Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Westborough High School National Honor Society students will prepare the packages to be shipped.
“We’ve been kind of overwhelmed…” said Gallinagh, who noted that he’s also thankful for the tremendous support of the First United Methodist Church, where the collected items are being stored. “The response has been really outstanding from all sections of the community.”
And Gallinagh knows what a heartwarming impact that response can have on troops. Not only has he (and the WVAB) recently received the gratitude of a member of our military from Westborough for a care package he received in a much smaller previous drive, he believes it will help connect the community to our troops.
“They know they’re not forgotten,” shared Gallinagh. “These people are putting their lives on the line.”