Members of the U.S. military community in Vicenza collect goods for local residents in need
VICENZA, Italy — Members of the U.S. military community have responded to calls to help local residents in need — including many who are newly arrived in Italy.
After recent local media reports said the numbers of those seeking aid in Vicenza have increased dramatically this year, the base chapel decided to collect donations.
Maj. Jose Herrera, the Roman Catholic chaplain on base, delivered the items Tuesday to a local charity in downtown Vicenza.
"I think they’re going to be happy with what we’ve got," Herrera said earlier in the day. "We’re pleased with what we’ve got, but we probably could have received even more if we had more time or there were more people around base now."
Many servicemembers and civilians are taking time off during the holidays. And a majority of the soldiers who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan have left for other assignments or returned to the States. Their replacements continue to arrive on base.
Donations were largely gathered during Christmas services in the chapel last week. They included food, diapers and other items for newborns. Community members also donated canned goods, bags of pasta and other food items.
Many of those in need are recent immigrants to Italy, Herrera said. Others include single mothers struggling to provide for their children, he said.
The Italian economy hasn’t had the same housing and financial problems the States is experiencing, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government has yet to overcome the issue of inflation. The cost of many basic goods rose by double-digit percentages during the year, according to numerous media reports.
Col. David Smith, chaplain for the Southern European Task Force, said no requests for help had directly been made to Americans stationed at Caserma Ederle.
"People realize we need to be good neighbors," he said. "And we want to be good neighbors. If there’s a way to help, we will."