LAKE PLACID - Shannon and Kenneth Porter Sr. have three boys, all graduates of the Lake Placid High School and members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have benefited by receiving care packages from home.
Shannon, however, is taking those care packages to the next level for her 21-year-old identical twins - Casey, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, and Cody, a specialist in the U.S. Army.
"They said, 'If you can, can you send a little extra?'" Shannon said Tuesday, April 18. "A lot of them don't get anything from home, and they were sharing everything they had, so when I had it, I would buy a bunch of stuff."
Now she's getting help from the Lake Placid community. Local businesses and the Shipman Youth Center are helping gather items for the care packages for all the troops in Casey and Cody's platoons, about 37 in all.
A simple request to set up donation boxes at local businesses was met with the giving spirit.
"I have to say, Hannaford was amazing," Shannon said. "I was just in awe of what they did, as far as advertising it and getting people to see it."
Donation boxes are also located at Kinney Drugs, Family Dollar and Price Chopper in Lake Placid.
Casey and Cody graduated from the Lake Placid High School in 2013, and Kenneth Jr. graduated in 2010. Shannon began sending care packages to Kenneth six years ago when he joined the U.S. Marines.
"Kenneth was an extremely smart kid; he could have gone to any college, but he wanted to go save lives. That's what he told me," Shannon said. "He sat down and said, 'You're going to be mad at me. I'm not going to college. ... I want to go out and save lives.' What do you say to that? I'm just very proud of him for doing that."
Kenneth is now a staff sergeant stationed at a recruiting detail in Kentucky. As for the twins, they were inspired by their older brother's entry into the military.
"They saw what their brother was doing, and they said, 'That's what I want to do,'" Shannon said. "Kenneth wanted to do this since he was little. ... I'm extremely proud. It's hard because you worry every day."
There is a variety of items on the list for the care packages based on requests from the soldiers. For the Porter twins, cookies are a must, and they are provided by Sue Rossi, head chef at the Lake Placid Middle/High School cafeteria.
"Snicker doodles are their favorite, so she's been cooking up a storm," Shannon said. "Her son was on the basketball team that my boys were on, and she always brought homemade cookies. She has now given me more cookies. And they're not small packages. These things are heavy. She must pack 15 pounds of cookies in these Tupperware containers."
The Shipman Youth Center board of directors decided to start a fundraising project for Shannon's adopt-a-platoon project and help her send as many packages as possible through 2017. The board has set a May 1 deadline for fundraising and the collection of food and nonperishable items. After that, packages will be processed at the youth center, and they will be sent to the platoons.
Items and money donations can be delivered/sent to the Shipman Youth Center 61 Cummins Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946. For more information, call Director Jason Hooker at 518-523-8786 or email him at email@example.com. Hooker will also pick up donated items if requested. The youth center is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Mondays and 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.
Other than care packages, digital communication with the twins is the key to keeping Shannon's stress levels down. But it's not easy. Casey and Cody are overseas, at locations the Porters can't reveal because of their sensitivity. Due to the expense of phone calls and text messages, the family has decided that the cheapest and easiest way to communicate with them is through Facebook Messenger.
"Since last Thursday, I hadn't heard from Cody. ... We didn't hear, we didn't hear," Shannon said Tuesday. "With everything going on, all I could think of is someone would come knocking on the door. I don't know how I could handle that. They come right to your home when something happens. So there are days when I won't answer the door because I don't know who it's going to be. But finally we did get word from Cody late this evening, so it was a big sigh of relief. As long as somebody checks in with me every couple of says, my stress isn't so bad."
Care package items needed
-Condiment packets: Ketchup, mustard, relish
-Strawberry shortcake rolls
-Peanut butter cups
-Jelly peach rings
-Baked goods (air tight)
-Little pocket notebooks
-Plug-in air fresheners
-Black socks (calf length, no logos, nondress)
-Shirts (no logos allowed)