Southwest Ambulance personnel are collecting candy for those who aren’t able to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Teaming up with Operation Gratitude to collect Halloween candy to be included in care packages sent to American troops overseas, Southwest Ambulance is collecting the candy from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesday and later from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The donations can be brought to Southwest Ambulance Headquarters at 708 W. Baseline Road, Mesa.

A Southwest Ambulance employee participating in the event, Duty Officer Jesse Paez, returned from Iraq in 2010 from a second tour of duty with the Army. Paez says he is grateful to witness continued support for deployed troops.

“Time spent away from loved ones and friends is much easier to manage knowing people are thankful for what we do,” says Paez. “It’s a great boost for morale.”

Event participants are encouraged to write letters to send along with their candy, and will have an opportunity to tour Southwest Ambulance’s Salute our Troops Unit. The ambulance displays a unique collection of images depicting World War II, Vietnam, an A-10 “Warthog” aircraft, the Boeing AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter, and a mix of notable, inspirational quotes. Collected candy and letters will be loaded into the Salute Our Troops Unit, then packaged in Southwest Ambulance’s medical supply warehouse and shipped to Operation Gratitude on Veterans Day.

Valley residents who want to donate candy or write letters but were unable to make Tuesday’s collection times can donate candy from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday at Southwest Ambulance’s West Valley Operations Facility, 5222 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale.

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