Teresa Arciola of Elmsford packs instant mac & cheese into a cardboard box. She adds jerky, granola and pretzels. Then candy, crackers and peanut butter. She also throws in copied DVDs and comic books. And cigarettes? Well, sometimes there's just nothing like an American cigarette.
"It makes her feel great to help and send packages," said Cassandra Arciola, Teresa's eldest daughter. "Mom gets so pumped about helping."
Arciola sends these packages to the troops in Iraq. In June 2003, her youngest son, Michael, left for basic training nine days after graduating from Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford. Not two years later, in February 2005, Michael was killed in Iraq.
Author and journalist Bob Woodward mentioned the Arciola family in his book " State of Denial ," but in January 2011, he invited Teresa to be featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," alongside First Lady Michelle Obama, to talk about the loss of her son. Teresa did not want Americans to forget about the fallen soldiers and what they sacrificed for their country.
For one week each year, Teresa travels to Aspen, Colorado, volunteering at the Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic .
"Working with the veterans is amazing," said Cassandra Arciola. "She's always on cloud nine when she comes back."
Teresa Arciola was born in Washington Heights and settled in Elmsford in 1986. She has lived in the same red house ever since, now with Cassandra and their two cats, Macleod and Mia. She also has two other children.
Teresa has worked at Elmsford's MetLife for 20 years. On weekends, she works in the children's department at the Barnes and Noble in the Crossroads Shopping Plaza. She received her Bachelor's in liberal studies from SUNY Purchase in 2004.
With "Support Our Troops" stickers on her fridge and a printed out e-mail from Michael tacked onto her wall, she encourages Americans to champion current and former soldiers alike.
How do you give back the troops? Let us know!
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