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Community rallies to send care package to local soldier

Travis Chase, left, of Northfield receives a flag and yellow ribbon from Kraig Emery, one of his coworkers at the Merrimack County Jail, before leaving for his tour of duty. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
May 26, 2010
NORTHFIELD — The son of a Northfield couple serving overseas will soon be the surprised recipient of a rather elaborate care package, after the community rallied to donate cash, nonperishable foods and even a microwave to Travis Chase and his company in Afghanistan.

Chase, 27, is the son of Charlie and Karen Chase and a 2002 graduate of Winnisquam Regional High School. The care package effort was spearheaded by Andrea Summersett of Northfield, who works for Karen Chase at Beck & Bellucci in Franklin and is also a family friend.

"She's been amazing," Karen Chase said of Summersett. "She just took the ball and ran with it."

Summersett said Karen Chase had been talking about sending small packages to her son on a regular basis.

"I thought, we should send out memos to our employees," Summersett said.

She did, and the response was so good that word got out to companies associated with Beck & Bellucci. The Riley Agency out of Concord heard about it and donated nonperishable items, and after that, Summersett decided to call other local businesses. In the end, Summersett wound up with $700 in cash, food and a microwave. Chase had put a microwave on the list his mom requested once she realized how big this care package was going to be.

Karen Chase said her son knows that community has been making donations but doesn't know the extent of it.

"We had no idea how big this was going to get," she said.

With the cash donations in hand, Summersett and Karen Chase headed to BJ's to pick up other items on the list, like socks, underwear, toiletries and foods that can be made with boiling water. They also bought a fair amount of snacks.

"He said the food is awful," Summersett said.

Chase is a mountaineer serving in the Vermont National Guard. His company is often dropped off by helicopter on a mountain with no access to supplies.

"Whatever you've got in the backpack, that's what you've got," Summersett said.

Karen Chase said her son's favorite snack is Oreos, but she expects he'll eat just about anything.

As they were checking out at BJ's last week, Karen Chase said, they were asked several times by other customers what they were shopping for.

"People gave cash at the checkout when they found out what we were doing," Karen Chase said.

Chase has been overseas since just after Christmas and may be back in November. News just came to his family that he was hit by a roadside bomb last week. It left him with a concussion, but he's back with his company now.

During a recent mission in Paktya Province, Afghanistan, Chase and his fellow soldiers captured the largest weapons cache in the district in three years. According to an online news site for Operation Enduring Freedom, the air assault allowed the soldiers to surprise the insurgents in what was supposed to be their safe house.

Summersett said that hearing about the work Chase and his fellow soldiers are doing makes sending this massive care package even more meaningful. She sent the package out last week and plans to put together another package in August.

She welcomes anyone who would like to donate to email her at asummersett@beckandbellucci.com or call her at 934-5236.

The businesses and individuals contributing to this package were: Cullen Concrete, Beck & Bellucci, Inc & employees, Benson Auto, CWS Fence & Guardrail, Weaver Brothers, Carolyn and David Hurst, Pauli's Restaurant, Joyce Summersett, Jeanne Taylor, JA Garneau, RD Edmunds, Nathan Wechsler and employees, Tiffany's Beauty Salon, Bill Hurd, Cybertron, Park N Go Market and Ciao Pasta.

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