Volunteers use a million starts to thanks troops, vets

Susan Wells of Troy has led dozens of stars to our troop volunteers who have received a million thanks.

For the past 11 years, they’ve been cutting stars from tattered and faded old American flags. After donating each flag, volunteers cut, washed and dried the blue canton before cutting out the embroidered stars before placing them in transparent bags, according to Wells.

They attached a message to each star before putting them in the bags that said: “I am part of the American flag that flew over a house in the USA and can no longer fly. In the sun and wind, I’m torn and torn but I haven’t forgotten. Please carry me to remind you that you haven’t forgotten “.

Dozens are bagged and delivered to volunteers for distribution and shipped across the United States for distribution to veterans, military and first responders.

Stars for Our Troops first launched 11 years ago in the McKenna Military Courtesy Room at Colony International Airport. Stars in sponsorship packages are sent to troops deployed in Iraq, Kuwait and elsewhere abroad. Stars are also handed out during veterans events and job fairs for military personnel and veterans.

Wells says she has received thank-you notes from troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and elsewhere. Many recipients carry their stars with them at all times. Wales and its army of volunteers earned national recognition for their patriotic efforts.

Barry Casey, President of the National Association of Independent Flag Dealers, George Washington Award for Excellence, to Well, founder of Stars for Our Troops.

“For more than 11 years, Susan Wells and her volunteers have reused the embroidered stars from retired American flags, creating over a million souvenirs of thanks for the active U.S. military, veterans, and first responders,” Casey said after the presentation. “The award is given to an individual who has rendered exceptional service to the flag industry; to set an example of excellence, integrity, and professionalism for an extended period of time; to share advice and wisdom with others, both within and outside the industry; and to care about flags and banners and most notably the American flag as a symbol of patriotism and our nation’s heritage.”

Wells helped start many other Stars for Our Troops across the country. We always welcome new stars to our volunteer forces.

Star Parties are held at the Cohoes-Waterford Elks Lodge at 45 N. Mohawk Street in Cohoes from 6 to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday and fourth Wednesday of every month. Because of the holidays, they won’t be having parties in November and December, but they will start again in January.

People who wish to donate used flags may do so by leaving them at the lower level entrance at Cohoes-Waterford Elks Lodge with the name and address of the donor so we can acknowledge receipt of the collection for the flag. Or flags can be mailed to: Stars for our Troops, PO Box 301, Troy NY 12182.

“It is important to realize that we will accept all flags, but we will not use any flag that does not say ‘Made in the USA,’” Wells says. “USA made overseas flags are sold, but will not be used to create stars for our troops to give to our military or veterans warriors or first responder.”

Donations are also needed to fund postage and shipping. Send Stars for Our Troops donations to Susan Wells, Box 301, Troy, NY 12182-0301.

free turkeys

News of your troops and units can be sent to Duty Calls, Terry Brown, Times Union, Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212, or brownt@timesunion.com.

The law firm of Tully Rinckey and Price Chopper/Market will provide 32,250 free Thanksgiving turkeys to serving DC-Area military personnel and retired military personnel from noon until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 23 at Price Chopper Parking Lot, Colony Plaza, 1892 Central Ave. . , Colony.

Turks will be available on a first-come-first-served basis with proof of military ID. The turkey will be distributed via a drive-through process, where the veterans will move into the distribution area and the Tully Rickey volunteer will load the turkey.


Excelsior College has received a $25,000 donation from SEFCU to fund Veteran Scholarships. The scholarships will go to college-bound veterans who are financially in need. According to Erin Koval, a spokesperson for the college, fifteen percent of Excelsior’s students are veterans, and with a donation from SEFCU, Excelsior will award annual scholarships to veteran students to focus on their pursuits.

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