After-school dance honors soldiers

HOWELL — The YMCA of Western Monmouth County’s after-school program at the Griebling School, Havens Bridge Road, held a USO dance on Oct. 29. The purpose of the event was to honor Amer-ican servicemen and commemorate the YMCA’s involvement in the founding of the USO in October 1940.

The event, which marked the culmination of a month-long celebration to honor American soldiers in Iraq, featured games, dancing, music, snacks and costumes from the 1940s.

Students, their families and the YMCA staff were asked to donate items most frequently requested by the soldiers stationed in Fort Drum, N.Y. – a 10th Mountain base that deploys soldiers to Iraq. The items will be donated through “Operation Care Package,” a program instituted by the Watertown Family YMCA.

The Armed Services division of the YMCA of the United States of America arranged the connection between the Watertown Family YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County.

“We wanted to help soldiers who had a connection with the YMCA to help keep our YMCA tradition alive,” said Joanne Manfredo, co-director of school-age child care. “When I contacted Fort Drum and they sent me a quote from one of the soldiers who had been deployed, it solidified my decision.”

The quote said, “Sometimes when it gets tough I read a note from home. It reminds me why I’m here and who I’m protecting.”