HYANNIS (CBS) – A thousand Cape Cod residents spent part of their Memorial Day weekend at a 24-hour event in a shopping center parking lot intended as a giant hug of sorts for troops, their families and military veterans.
Cape Cod Cares For The Troops is in its 10th year and bigger than ever.
Started in 2004 by then 12-year-old Boy Scout Dylan DeSilva, the plan was to gather donations for military care packages.
“We honestly sent out maybe six packages in the first couple months and we didn’t think anything of it. That was going to be the end of it but we got letters back about the need for it and it just exploded,” DeSilva recalled.
Cape Cod Cares For The Troops is still collecting items such as cough drops and shoe laces to send overseas, but as the wars wind down, they’re also supplementing their mission by adopting wounded warrior families at Christmas.
To kick off the annual donation drive, fellow military members stand at attention, honoring the Cape’s 14 men and women killed in the wars on terror.
At the age of 87, World War II veteran Walter Von Home volunteered to take the first shift.
“It’s refreshing to know there are people who think about our troops to begin with but love our country,” Von Home said.
Gold Star mom Cynthia Deslauriers is what this weekend is all about. Her son Mark Vecchione was the first Massachusetts soldier to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“He was a soldier’s soldier. So he grew up to be the kind of man that I would hope he would be,” she said.
Deslauriers said people can still have their Memorial Day cookouts as long as they remember the true meaning of the day. “Don’t ever forget because people in those cemeteries died so you can have this,” she said.
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