Operation Slugger delivers morale boost to U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

Operation Slugger, a program dedicated to boosting morale among U.S. troops based in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been launched to provide sporting equipment for recreational activities. Through Operation Slugger, the partnering organizations – DHL, Louisville Slugger, USA Cares, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) – are working to collect donated sporting goods from local communities across the country for the assembly of sport kits, which will be delivered to troops stationed overseas.

Operation Slugger aims to provide the troops with 600 sports kits worth approximately $1,000 each, which will include baseball and softball gloves, bats, balls and hats, footballs, basketballs, rugby balls and soccer balls. Each kit will also include volleyball and badminton sets, Frisbees, an air pump, Hacky Sack and Nerf products, and a duffle bag to hold it all.

Some 100 VFW posts located across the country will be serving as collection points for the "gently used" and new sporting goods equipment and will make up the sports kits.

The week of June 6, DHL will pick up the donated goods at the VFW posts and deliver them to Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY. From there, the donated equipment will be shipped via Military Air to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Operation Slugger came about after Louisville Slugger received numerous e-mails from U.S. soldiers requesting baseball bats and gloves to replace equipment that had worn out from repeated use or for those troops who didn't have any sporting equipment.

"We've been sending baseball and softball equipment to these various units, but as our resources dwindled, we needed the public to help us out because we just didn't want to turn down any of the requests," says Rick Redman, vice president of corporate communications for Hillerich and Bradsby, Louisville Slugger's parent company. "So, with the help of our partners, Operation Slugger was born."

DHL is donating the transportation and logistics coordination for the shipment-- which is expected to exceed 20 tons of sporting goods -- to Louisville. The donated goods will arrive at Slugger Field on Flag Day, June 14, and be presented during an on-field ceremony before the start of a Louisville Bats game.

To contribute to this important initiative, visit www.operationslugger.org where you will find a list of local drop-off points, or an address where you can send equipment, ranging from baseball bats and gloves to footballs, basketballs and Frisbees.

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