Thanksgiving dinner

In this image taken on Oct. 8, 2012, a Thanksgiving dinner plate of cider brined turkey with sage gravy, peach cranberry sauce, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, sausage pecan stuffing, arugula pear salad with pomegranate vinaigrette and goat cheese and herb crusted sweet potatoes is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Matthew Mead/AP

The Ahwatukee Recreation Center (ARC) is in full swing with its ARC Support Our Troops Program and Thanksgiving Food Drive throughout November.

The Support Our Troops Program is ran by the retirees at ARC, who collect items to fill more than 100 care boxes that will be sent to the U.S. military stationed in the Middle East this holiday season.

Donated items consist of T-shirts (large and extra-large), men’s socks (white and black), batteries, playing cards, drink mixes such as Crystal Light, snack bars and hard candy.

The Quilt Club at ARC also lends a helping hand by making stockings for each of the boxes sent to the troops.

Amy Nicholls, activity director, said the Support Our Troops Program has been around since 2008, where one of the ARC members had the idea of doing something special for the troops being sent to the Middle East.

“I was fortunate to get in contact with someone from Luke Air Force Base, and what I found out is that at the time they would send about 100 people over to the Middle East,” Nicholls said. “We’ve combined our program with Operation Thunder Box with Luke Air Force Base.”

Nicholls sought out assistance from ARC member Barbara LeChaix, who had previous experience on sending care packages to troops overseas.

They began receiving more donations than needed, and made the decision to also ship boxes during the spring.

“When we sent the boxes we actually got responses back from people, and that’s something that is just a perk of doing this,” Nicholls said.

Boxes sent out to the troops have a letter attached from the ARC thanking them for their service.

LeChaix said all items in the boxes are individually wrapped, so the troops have gifts to open during the holidays.

Including this year’s shipments, the ARC will have sent more than 1,000 boxes to the troops since the beginning of the program in 2008.

The ARC is also inviting the Ahwatukee community to join them in their Thanksgiving Food Drive to benefit the St. Peters Mission.

Individuals interested in making donations to the ARC Support Our Troops program can donate their items at the ARC, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive, prior to Nov. 11.

Donations of non-perishable items for the Thanksgiving Food Drive can be dropped off any time between Nov.4-30.

For more information about these two events, visit

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