Under the leadership of a young teen, VA Pittsburgh staff and their families recently joined together to lift the spirits of a military police company in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
Roberta Mongelluzzo, a VA Pittsburgh operating room scheduler, frequently updated her co-workers on her daughter, Sergeant Paige Wallace, and the rest of the 307th Military Police Company during their deployment.
When Dr. Michael Mangione, chief of anesthesiology and director of pain services, shared some of the stories with his son, Jordan, 14, a light bulb came on above the youth's head.
Mangione explains that Jordan recalled his sister's volunteer work at VA Pittsburgh the prior summer and wondered how he could give back to our Nation's heroes.
So Jordan and Mangione developed a plan. While his father invited VA Pittsburgh operating room and anesthesiology staff to participate, Jordan worked with his friends and neighbors. Together, they collected more than 130 pounds of wrapped food, puzzles, games and other comfort items for the 307th Military Police Company.
"The generosity of the anesthesiology and OR staff was just overwhelming," says Mangione. "My office was just overflowing. It was really gratifying for all of us who were involved."
The boxes were delivered shortly after the unit had been in combat.
"When I heard that the troops got hit and some were wounded, and their spirits were lifted by this, it made me feel really good to help them," says Jordan.
To show their gratitude, Sergeant Wallace dropped by VAPHS upon her return stateside. She presented VAPHS with a plaque honoring their support and gave Jordan an American flag that flew over the unit in Afghanistan.
"Before I did this, donating to the troops had never come up in my mind," says Jordan. "Now, if I had the chance, I would do this again."