SCV student launches military care package drive

Julian Ybarra, a third grader attending Valencia Valley Elementary school, works on creating Valentine's Day Cards for active duty soldiers at a "Hearts for Heroes" event hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military at American Legion Post 504 Saturday morning. February 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

While the coronavirus pandemic affected many Santa Clarita Valley residents, it affected local nonprofits, too, with many not receiving donations like normal. 

So, when Christopher Salerno, 17, of Valencia, learned nonprofit support group Prayer Angels for the Military was in need of donations to fill the care packages typically sent overseas to troops monthly, he decided to find a way to help. 

“Right now is a tough time for a lot of these charity groups who are not getting donations during COVID-19 … so I reached out to Ms. Suzon (Gerstel) at Prayer Angels, and decided that I was going to start a donation drive,” said Salerno, who’s president of Youth Outreach Santa Clarita Valley, a local charity outreach group.

Now, Salerno is seeking the community’s support in collecting donations for the care packages, with some of the most needed items being handwritten letters, cards and drawings, which are cherished by troops, along with snacks like beef jerky, slim jims, powdered drink mix packets and other individually packaged snacks.

“I’m just trying to spread awareness and help the community in any way I can, especially during the chaotic and tough times,” he added.

Salerno, who has family friends who served overseas in the Navy and Army, understands how difficult it can be to be away from home and family, and knows the importance of each care package sent.

“During COVID-19, people are forgetting that we still have soldiers stationed overseas, and they’re not getting as much attention, so I thought it would help to bring more awareness to the situation that we still have people overseas that need our support and we need to show love to,” he said. 

The deadline for donations is July 31. For more information on how to donate, contact Salerno at 818-939-5606 or [email protected]

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