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Officer wants to give back to those who serve the community

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The members of the Longmeadow police and fire departments serve their community selflessly, so Police Officer Don Jacek is asking the community to now help out two members of those departments who are currently overseas, serving with the United States military.

"One of the firemen and I were talking about [collecting items for them]," Jacek told Reminder Publications, "and we decided to try it."

Bill Albano of the Longmeadow Police Department has been serving in Afghanistan since being deployed in March and Frank Matuszczak of the Fire Department has been serving in Iraq since April.

"We're just looking for things like socks, foot powder, toilet paper, DVDs, magazines and dry snacks," Jacek said. He added he is also looking to gather monetary donations to purchase sand scarves for the servicemen because "they're only issued one and they get a lot of sandstorms over there they need more than one."

Jacek himself has already donated clothing and money to this collection.

This is the first time Jacek has organized a collection like this. "It's hard [to collect donations] when you don't know where to ship them or what to ship or who to ship them to," he said. "It helps to know someone over there."

Donations are being accepted through July 21 at both the police station and the fire station, located on Williams Street. If residents have any questions, Jacek said they should call the police station at 567-3311 or the fire station at 567-3357.

"We're just asking for help," Jacek said.

Will he host another collection in the future? "It all depends on how long they're over there," he stated. "We're hoping they come home safe and as soon as possible."

Boots on Ground ( lists the following items as the most requested items from soldiers:

Iraq phone calling cards

Unlocked GSM cell phones

Surefire flashlights

Green laser pointers

Rosetta Stone Arabic software

Multi-tools (Gerber, Leatherman)

Wiley sunglasses and goggles

Under Armour underwear (can't be used in tactical operations)

Other items soldiers may want or need are:

Semi-rugged laptops (Itronix, Toughbook)

Ruggedized cameras and electronic gear

Pelican cases (to protect laptops and other electronics)

Face masks, neck coolers and helmet coolers

Handheld electronic video games

Current DVD movies, books and magazines

Boots on Ground also lists what not to send a soldier overseas:

Prohibited items that will be confiscated, such as alcohol, religious materials, firearms and ammunition.

Items that may melt, leak, explode or turn on while shipped.

Items that are easily found at a post PX, like dookies, candies, snack foods and beverages. Tip: Don't send food and scented products together. Several weeks in transit at 120 F+ temperatures will result in deodorant-flavored cookies.