07/15/07 — UniFirst donates items to airmen overseas

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UniFirst donates items to airmen overseas

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 15, 2007 2:01 AM

Fourth Fighter Wing Commander Col. Steve Kwast accepted more than 400 pounds of donated items to send to airmen overseas Friday from UniFirst during the company's annual Founder's Day celebration.

"You can never know the impact you have on an airman in harm's way when you do something like this," Kwast told the more than 120 UniFirst employees who gathered the items over six weeks and had them laid out on a table for the colonel and his family.

Kwast said he knows first hand how it feels to receive a surprise package when you're far from home.

"I felt like the entire power of the nation was behind me," he said about what it was like to open a package from home. "Thank you for giving this. It will make them stronger, because you are behind them."

Kwast and his wife, Joni, and their children, Keegan, 9, and Lilliana, 5, joined the employees for some burgers and games to mark the occasion.

The Support Your Local heroes drive was the brainchild of UniFirst Regional Human Resources Manager Jerilyn Lee. She asked employees to bring small things to ship, such as books, DVDs, toiletries, crossword puzzle books, "anything we could think of to let them know folks back home were thinking about them. You name it, we've got it," she said.

Company founder Aldo Croatti, who died seven years ago, is remembered annually by UniFirst locations in the United States and abroad. Croatti started the uniform supply company in 1936 near Boston.