With their monthly meeting over, about two dozen members of Sag Harbor’s American Legion Auxiliary filed into the main hall of the Chelberg and Battle Post 388.
One member opened a large cardboard box containing Christmas stockings. Another volunteer opened a carton stuffed with warm, comfy cold-weather socks. Others passed boxes containing toiletries like toothbrushes, deodorant, and soap, or treats like candy bars, peanuts, and crackers, around the room.
Like clockwork, the women began passing the stockings, which were soon filled to the brim until they circled back to the main table, where other volunteers tied them off with ribbons and enclosed a card wishing the recipient “Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Safe and Healthy New Year.”
In less than an hour, four large cartons had been taped closed and addressed to Airman First Class Henry Kotz — this reporter’s son — who is stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Kotz, who comes from Bridgehampton, will be tasked with distributing the stockings to the men and women he works with maintaining the base’s fleet of B-52 bombers, which while aging, still play a vital role in American defense.
Sag Harbor’s American Legion Ladies Auxiliary has been sending the Christmas care packages for the past five or six years. Usually, they are sent to a Sag Harbor serviceman or woman who is stationed overseas with the request that they distribute the 50 stockings to their comrades in arms.
“They usually go to Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Debra Guerin, an auxiliary member who leads the effort. “But this year, we don’t know of anyone there.”
Although remote by anyone’s standards, Minot is in the continental United States. The Air Force base is about 15 miles north of the city by the same name and it enjoys a reputation for being cold and windy. As the saying goes, “Why not Minot? Freezin’s the reason.” The first snow fell there on September 30 this year.
Guerin said the auxiliary will continue to send out the packages. “It’s just a nice way to say, ‘Hey, we haven’t forgotten you,’” she said.
Donations can be sent to: American Legion Auxiliary, Chelberg & Battle Post 388, P. O. Box 541, Sag Harbor, NY 11963.