Rockland teen spreads joy to soldiers overseas: ‘They do so much for us’


ROCKLAND, N.Y. — Inspired by his older sister, one Rockland teen is spreading holiday day cheer to soldiers stationed overseas.

The project “Operation Santa: Sam’s Soldier’s” is back for a second year, and 14-year-old founder Trey Rolnick said he knew the need would be greater this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I see what [Sam’s] soldiers do. I hear all about it, and just the things that they have to endure are so difficult,” Rolnick said.

His older sister, Sam, is a first lieutenant stationed in Vicenza, Italy. To help her and the troops she serves with, Rolnick gathers toiletries, blankets, food items and a fan favorite — comfortable thermal socks.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help them out, because they do so much for us,” Rolnick said.

To add to the holiday cheer this season, Rolnick is actually flying out to Italy to visit his sister and the other soldiers he’s helped. He said he’s looking forward to thanking all of them, especially Sam, in person.

“I admire her, I thank her, and I look up to her beyond words,” he said.

Anyone interested can donate toward Operation Santa: Sam’s Soldiers via its GoFundMe campaign.

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