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Posted: 04/30/14


SUPPORTING SOLDIERS

Above, at left, Bruce Township resident Jim Tignanelli helps prepare donated items for soldiers staying at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2013. Tignanelli is once again asking for donations from the community as he returns to the hospital next month.
(Observer file photo, courtesy of Jim Tignanelli)

Tignanelli collecting
donations for soldiers

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Macomb County residents are asked to give to those who have sacrificed life and limb for their country.
       Soldiers who have suffered injuries while serving their nation will benefit from the generosity of residents as former Bruce Township Supervisor Jim Tignanelli collects donations for his annual trip to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on May 14.
       The collection drive will gather items until May 7.
       Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), makes a yearly trip to Washington, D.C. during National Police Week in May to attend the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. While there, Tignanelli uses the opportunity to visit the medical center, providing tee shirts and other donated items as a way of expressing gratitude to injured soldiers.
       The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center provides care and rehabilitation for thousands of seriously wounded soldiers, especially those that have lost limbs. Tignanelli said the goal of the donation drive is to provide comfort to those who have sacrificed so much for their country.
       "The war over there seems to have fallen off the mainstream media," he said. "Injuries continue to occur, and those already injured might be there for upwards of a year. There are still a lot of people still needing this service."
       The donation effort began in 1995 with providing tee shirts to soldiers, but has expanded over the years to provide backpacks full of items of comfort and convenience. For example, electric shavers benefit soldiers who take blood-thinning medications, while workout gloves assist them with their rehabilitation exercises.
       "It's the generosity of the people in the two townships and village that make this happen," Tignanelli said.
       Tignanelli said with the collection effort going on for the past year, the main items they are still looking for are gift cards to outlets like Target, Amazon.com and Walmart. Gift cards for restaurants like McDonalds are also welcomed. Tignanelli said the cards help both the soldier and their family when they visit.
       "Oftentimes the families arrive at the medical center on very short notice and stay much longer than anticipated, so gift cards allow them to buy things for themselves to help them get by," he said.
       Each of the 20 backpacks will contain about $1,500 in donations, including: clothing, a lap quilt, an electric shaver, workout gloves, a DVD player, DVDs, a deck of cards, an iPod shuffle, a Kindle Fire HD and gift cards.
       Some items have been donated by businesses and residents, while monetary donations are used to fill out the bags, including purchasing $300 Kindle Fire HD tablet devices. Tignanelli said providing the devices have become a mainstay for the donation drive because it not only gives the soldiers a way to connect to the outside world via the Internet, but provides entertainment for themselves and their visiting family.
       "We've even found family members doing homework on them," he said. "It's something we really feel has been a great addition to the bag."
       In that vein, new toys have become a sought-out item for the donation drive. The toys provide entertainment for the children of the soldiers, and any toys the POAM doesn't hand out are given to the medical center to be distributed.
       Local drop-off locations for this year's efforts are Heidebreicht Chevrolet, Keller and Associates on Main Street in Romeo, the Shelby Township Police Department and the Bruce and Washington township halls.
       Outside of the Walter Reed drive, the POAM raised funds last year to purchase three Action Trackchairs ­ off-road wheelchairs ­ that retail for about $12,000 each and provided them to disabled veterans in Michigan.
       "We were hoping in a matter of years to get one, and as the info got out more people came on board and we did way better than we thought we could do," Tignanelli said.
       A full list of items can be found at https://www.poam.net/donate. Call 313.937.5032 for more information.
      


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Retrieved 8/28/2014 at 7:19:03 PM.
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