Orland Park Teens Collect for Overseas Military Service Dogs & Handlers

Orland Park Teens Collect for Overseas Military Service Dogs & Handlers
Posted on 09/15/2010

Military service dogs are deployed worldwide to support the war on terror, helping to safeguard military bases and activities and to detect bombs and other explosives.

Members of the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department High School Recreation Advisory Committee will host a collection for overseas military service dogs and their handlers.

"This collection says a lot for our young people," said Orland Park Village Trustee Patricia Gira, chair of the village's Recreation, Parks and Environmental Initiatives Committee. "It makes all of us very proud to see what these young adults are doing for those serving our country and the dogs that protect them," Gira said.

The high school students will collect items on Friday, October 22 from 3:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 South Ravinia Avenue.

"Our high school committee members choose the causes they want to help," said Orland Park Recreation Program Supervisor Stephanie Simpson. "They've collected to help animals in the past and helping the dogs and handlers working to protect our service personnel overseas is a wonderful gesture," Simpson added.

Requested items for dogs include dog biscuits, dog treats (no pork or pig ears), jerky treats (no greenies or rawhides), dog shampoo, dog conditioner, dog brushes, chew ropes and toys, baby wipes, bones, tennis balls, kongs, eye and ear wipes for dogs, working dog salves for paws and noses, towels to wipe paws, dog beds or pillows, dog boots, cooling vests and doggles.

"Our members want to do what they can to help the dogs and their handlers, sending them what they need," said Janine Hozzian, the high school committee's moderator.

According to the American Forces Press Service, the U.S. military has used working dogs since the Revolutionary War, initially as pack animals and later for more advanced uses. World War II brought the biggest surge in use of working dogs to support military operations. The U.S. military deployed more than 10,000 specially trained canines, most as sentries, but others as scouts, messengers and mine detectors.

Working dogs currently serve with the U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as patrol dogs and explosives and drug detectors. Nearly 2000 more working dogs provide similar services at U.S. bases and operating posts around the world.

"The village's Veterans Commission is thrilled with the high school committee's collection," said Orland Park Veterans Commission Secretary Gail Blummer. "Anything that the community can do to support our men and women who are serving our country --- and the wonderful dogs that help them --- is very, very much appreciated," Blummer added.

Items requested for the dog handlers include air fresheners, DVDs, CDs, anti-bacterial wipes, chapstick, sunscreen, fans, tooth brushes and tooth paste, female products, deodorant, baby powder, foot spray, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, lotion, baby wipes, hand sanitizers, soap, eye drops, nail files, nail clippers, powdered drink mixes (Kool Aid), candy, gum, lollipops, on-the-go snacks (cheese and crackers), tuna pouches, beef jerky, oatmeal, protein bars, pens, paper, envelopes, magazines, phone cards and letters from the community.

"We're hoping that everyone will buy a few items the next time they're at the store and bring them up to the Civic Center on October 22," Hozzian said, adding, "This is a great community service project for individuals, veterans, families, scouts and youth organizations. We can all work together to make sure these hard working dogs and their handlers have what they need to get the job done."

Further information about Orland Park's High School Recreation Advisory Committee and its collection for overseas military service dogs and their handlers is available by calling Hozzian at 708/349-1402.