It was like an assembly line Saturday morning at LaSalle College High School.
People entered the school’s cafeteria, were handed a backpack, and walked down the line, filling the bags up with items to be given to wounded veterans and those serving in Afghanistan.
Three hundred service members are going to be happier, following the event, which was sponsored by Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a nonprofit organization based out of Richmond, VA. The organization works with wounded soldiers and also participates in athletic events to raise awareness for veterans. (The X-Athletes wear gas masks during athletic events to honor the sacrifices of veterans).
The bags, donated by 5.11 Tactical, a military law-enforcement equipment manufacturer, were filled with everything from socks and lip balm, to hand sanitizer and beef jerky.
One hundred of the bags will be given to wounded soldiers at Naval Medical Center in San Diego; 100 will go to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD; and 100 will go to a combat unit in Afghanistan.
One of the members of Team X-T.R.E.M.E., Rob Baiada, is an alumnus of the high school.
Ray Liberto, a U.S. Marine veteran, and a supporter of Team X-T.R.E.M.E., made the trip down from Lansdale. He said that the Lansdale Area Fundraising Society (LAFS) donated $1,500 to the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. event.
“Team X-T.R.E.M.E. does unbelievable stuff for wounded warriors,” Liberto said. “Marines tend to stick together and help each other out. Not even knowing them … it’s just something we do, donating time and helping out.”
Dan Covolesky, of Pottstown, is the director of operations for Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
“We put out a Facebook invite, and put out an invite to our fan base. People have been coming in with donated goods and packing the bags,” Covolesky said. “We want the community involved to raise awareness for our cause to honor and empower our wounded veterans. That’s our key.”
Covolesky, a Marine veteran and officer with Lower Salford Township Police, has been with the organization for a little over a year.
“I got out in 1997 and it’s in my blood to take care of our own,” he said. “I see what’s happening to our young people, and we have to help them, and take care of them.”
The founder and president of Team X-T.R.E.M.E., Jeremy Soles, of Richmond, VA, was also on hand for the donation event. Soles said his organization started humbly in his garage in 2009.
“Our mission is to honor, empower and motivate our wounded veterans,” Soles said. “In 2009 I was working on a diplomatic protection security detail [in Iraq] and a lot of my teammates from the Marines, and also from the contracting world, were getting wounded; I had friends that didn’t come back and made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I just really wanted to put together an organization that honors their service and sacrifice,” Soles continued. “I just want to go on record and say that this area is definitely patriotic. There’s a lot of organizations that support wounded veterans and the outreach is tremendous.”
For more information about Team X-T.R.E.M.E., visit http://www.team-x-treme.org.