A surge of holiday cheer will make its way to Afghanistan just in time for Christmas this year thanks to the employees of one Queens hotel.
Employees at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in East Elmhurst have banded together to adopt the entire 389th United States Army Division, sending them everything from toiletries to jewelry, in an effort to say thanks for their patriotic sacrifices.
Kathleen Pettit, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, organized the program by getting employees from every department of the hotel to donate gifts. She said inspiration came from the joy she experiences with her family every Christmas.
“Every year, I feel very lucky to be with my family,” said Pettit. “Being without their families this time of year has to be the hardest part for the troops. This is really the least I could do to help.”
Pettit had plenty of assistance turning her idea into reality. Her husband Kevin, sister-in-law Sheila and friend Darylann Ficken, along with every department in the hotel, all helped to spread the word and gather donations. But even with such a meaningful cause, she didn’t expect the response that she got.
“I really didn’t expect this response because of the tough economic times,” she said. “It’s really overwhelming.”
Thanks to her friend Darylann Ficken, who’s a nurse practitioner, the division’s nursing unit will be receiving care packages that they’ll appreciate.
“We were able to get a lot of items specific to nursing because of Darylann,” she said.
Pettit said that she wants to make this a yearly effort and has already committed to organizing a similar program in six months. She hopes her idea will affect others and that similar programs will become commonplace.
“I hope that some other corporation or company will see what we’re doing here and decide to do something for the troops as well,” she said.
Pettit plans to drop off the gifts at Fort Totten in Bayside, where they will be sent out immediately so the troops receive them by Christmas.