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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: West Penn Hospital worker leads drive for troops at war

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

By Craig Smith

Army National Guard Spc. Tom Salerno's unit hit the ground outside Baghdad lacking many of the basic things Americans take for granted. 

"The guys were hurting for just about everything," Salerno, 43, of Kittanning, said Thursday.

When Kim Mauro heard that, the medical assistant at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield spearheaded an effort at the hospital that sent 48 care packages to the men and women of Alpha Company's 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry over the past year.

Salerno, the son of Mauro's co-worker, Leslie Salerno, 63, of Millvale, paid a surprise visit to the hospital yesterday to thank her.

"Oh boy," Mauro said, as they met in a big hug. "Wow!"

"It's an honor for all of us," she said, wiping away tears. "A lot of people don't know what they are doing for our country and what their needs are."

Those needs, Salerno said, ranged from clothing to Q-tips to snacks, books and magazines.

Mauro, 48, and another medical assistant, Joy Virtue, who helped organize the collections, work with bone marrow transplant patients in the hematology/oncology office.

"It can be challenging," Mauro conceded.

But staff members throughout the hospital supported their effort, and collections for the troops often became a bright spot in their days.

"It was nice. The hospital let us do it. We had everybody coming down with bags and bags," Mauro said.

The letter she received from a female sergeant struck a chord, she said.

"She wanted to thank us for the beef jerky," Mauro said. "If beef jerky makes them happy, why not, when you think of what they are doing for us?"

Salerno, who returned from his second tour of duty in the fall, presented Mauro with an American flag and a citation from his unit.

The collection efforts will resume at West Penn about Memorial Day, officials said.


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