"I was serving in Trinidad when I received a package from a girl living in Philadelphia," Canzano said. "I didn't know her, but she took the time to send me a goody bag with candy and gum and I never forgot it. I appreciated that package."
So when Weehawken resident Canzano heard about the organized efforts by two township senior citizen groups, the Weehawken Senior Citizens and the Weehawken Senior Needles and Crafts Club, to collect items to send in care packages to soldiers serving overseas, Canzano wanted to help.
"I wanted to do the same thing like that girl did for me back then," Canzano said.
Canzano and fellow World War II veteran Joe Bradley have been putting together the packages to be mailed to the soldiers serving in Iraq. The caring women of the Needles and Crafts Club, like Jean Cocchio, have been collecting the items, like toiletries, candies, socks and such.
"I thought it was a good idea and I'm glad we were able to respond to it," Cocchio said. "We even donated money to help with the postage. It was a worthwhile thing and everyone was enthused about it. We really had no problem getting people to donate the items. Everyone was bringing stuff in."
So the groups of dedicated seniors were busy collecting the items, then packaging them up to be mailed overseas.
"Some of the packages are like 60, 70 pounds," Canzano said. "We send them to one soldier and he then shares it with the others."
Bradley got the idea to start the campaign in Weehawken after he helped to organize a similar drive with the Lyndhurst Elks.
"But I wanted to do something in my hometown," Bradley said.
The idea was truly a noble idea, one that brought the close-knit senior community together in the township for one common goal.
There's only one obstacle.
"We can't find the names of soldiers to send the packages to," Bradley said. "We need to get addresses. It's a shame that the packages are just sitting here. That's the frustrating part."
Since the anthrax scare after the 9/11 tragedy, the Department of Veterans Affairs will not provide addresses to the general public. Anything that the Weehawken seniors will find out will have to come on their own.
"That's why we're asking family members, friends or relatives for addresses so we can send these packages," Bradley said. "If the friends and family can provide the names, then we can send them out."
Bradley said that the seniors have six packages all set and ready to be mailed. They just don't know who to send them to.
"We ask people for names and that seems to be a big problem," Cocchio said. "We're just a little discouraged because we can't get the names to send them out. We need the names."
So that's why the seniors are asking for the help of the friends and neighbors. If anyone knows of a member of the United States Military that would care to receive a care package, feel free to contact the Weehawken Senior Nutritional Center at (201) 319-6060 and leave the information there, so the packages can be mailed.
"It feels so good to be able to help the cause," Cocchio said. "Without the names, it almost feels like we're collecting all of this for no one."
"We can't get names from anyone," Canzano said. "We can't ask Town Hall, can't ask the churches. We have to get the names and addresses on our own and that's been tough. We remember what it was like to receive packages from home from people we didn't even know. We just want them to have the same feeling."
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.