Public responds after van full of treats for troops is stolen
By Justin Jouvenal,
The theft was worthy of the Grinch: Someone snatched a van laden with packages of holiday treats for U.S. troops near Yael Roggen’s Arlington home less than a week before Christmas.
The response would have warmed the hearts of Whoville: Donations poured in, a Vietnam veteran offered his car to deliver packages, and good wishes came from soldiers stationed around the world, Roggen said.
The outpouring was enough to allow Treats 4 Our Troops to replace and send the packages.
“I was disappointed about the van, but the community responded in such an amazing way,” Roggen, who founded Treats 4 Our Troops in 2007, said. “It’s overwhelming.”
And now the van has been recovered. Roggen said it was involved in an accident in the District on Monday morning. She said police told her witnesses saw four juveniles fleeing the scene of the crash.
Roggen said she is waiting for word from police on the condition of the van and whether the holiday packages — which included candy, back issues of magazines and toiletries — are still inside.
The packages were slated to go to troops in Afghanistan, sailors on Navy ships and wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. The van was the group’s primary means of delivering the goods to the post office and local hospitals.
Roggen noticed the 2007 Honda Odyssey was missing on the morning of Dec. 20. It has a Virginia “Support Our Troops” specialty license plate. Roggen said she had packed it in anticipation of taking the packages to the post office.
Treats 4 Our Troops started as a way of delivering surplus Halloween candy to deployed troops. Roggen began the group in the living room of her Arlington home.
She said she expects to deliver about 5,000 pounds of candy to troops this year.
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