25 December 2008

A holiday miracle unfolds

Denise Nix of the Daily Breeze with the latest on this story (keep scrolling for the whole thing), and it truly is a miracle.

For the Troops ---- A holiday miracle unfolds
By Denise Nix, Staff Writer

Many are strangers. Some are friends. They are Boy Scouts, veterans and a famous actor.

All of them were touched by news about the theft of clothes and handmade blankets gathered by a Torrance woman for wounded soldiers stationed overseas.

In the three weeks since, they've helped Linda Ferrara replace what was stolen - and then some.

Ferrara, whose son, Army Capt. Matthew Ferrara, was killed in Afghanistan last year, said this week she is so thankful to all who responded.

"I'm gratified that so many people are thinking about the soldiers," Ferrara said Friday. "I'm so thankful."

Some have given all they could - as little as $5 - while others said they redirected their Christmas money to the cause.

Actor and director Rick Schroder said he plans to replace everything that was stolen after reading about the theft.

"I just couldn't let these thieves feel like they've won," Schroder said in a telephone interview. "It's really what got me - was the people who stole the stuff knew it was bound for service people overseas."

Schroder said he went to Landstuhl a couple of years ago, and will always remember the faces of the soldiers - young, scared and alone.

"I hope Americans really, really take a second and think about them and what they sacrifice," added the 38-year-old actor who has appeared in "NYPD Blue," "24" and "Strong Medicine."

The Ledford family, friends of the Ferraras, sent an $800 check and card that read: "Read about your recent troubles and hope this will replace what was taken - we all decided to contribute our Christmas money."

Kimberly Irwin sent $100 she earned at a garage sale she held to raise money for Christmas. She said it was in honor of Matthew Ferrara and the troops, and called Ferrara and her husband, Mario, her "new heroes."

Sgt. Ryan Edwards, stationed in Iraq, sent $10 and a note: "You need to know that you're wonderful people."

Michele Lewis, a co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 452 in Garden Grove, saw Ferrara and her handmade fleece blankets on the news, and knew the third- and fourth-grade girls in her troop would want to help.

The troop members were already making similar blankets for themselves, but they each put together an additional one to send to Landstuhl.

"The girls are really proud of what they did," Lewis said. "It means something to them to help those soldiers."

A Torrance Boy Scout troop that Matthew Ferrara and his three brothers once belonged to also sent donations, Ferrara said.

Matthew Ferrara attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, as did two of his brothers. Another brother is also in the Army.

Matthew Ferrara, 24, was killed Nov. 10, 2007, when insurgents attacked his NATO-led patrol in Afghanistan. He was killed instantly, never going to Landstuhl, but many in his troop did.

On Thursday, Ferrara joined fellow members of the Orange County West Point Parents Club and others in a conference room at Torrance Memorial Medical Center for a marathon blanket-making session.

Fifteen of them made 18 blankets in about three hours.

All the items are delivered to the hospital through Soldiers' Angels Germany. The goods are needed all year, not just at the holidays, and Ferrara said she will continue collecting.

In January, the organization is flying Ferrara to Germany so she can help distribute some of the items.

Read the whole story and see the photos at the link.

"Thank you" hardly seems enough to express our gratitude to everyone who helped make this happen.

Merry Christmas!

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