A South Huntington student recently spearheaded the collection of approximately 7,000 items for care packages sent to troops overseas.
Harpreet Rattu, an eighth-grader at Henry L. Stimson Middle School, collected the items — ranging from hygiene products to food items — in conjunction with the nonprofit Soldiers' Angels, for which she serves as an ambassador.
She was inspired to do so after hearing how difficult it is to receive basic necessities overseas from her sister, Inpree, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who is now stationed in South Korea.
Rattu, 13, also advocated for the cause as part of her title of Miss Empire Star's Outstanding Teen, which she won in 2020. She will compete this spring for the title of Miss New York's Outstanding Teen.
"Growing up, my parents always emphasized the importance of giving back," Rattu said. Of those serving overseas, she said: "These people are risking their lives every day and I think that having necessities like these are very important, especially in times like this when it's hard to get them."
Rattu provided some of the items to Blue Star Moms, a nonprofit that provides support for mothers who have children in active service, and hopes to coordinate a letter-writing campaign for soldiers in the future.
She is also secretary of the eighth-grade class at Stimson.