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~ Radio interview with Mark Mumford: December 3, 2005 ~

Dylan's mission: 12-year-old sends
more than 500 packages to
American soldiers in Iraq

By Marilyn Miller
The CAPE CODDER: October 7, 2005


Dylan DeSilva boxes up a care package that will make its way to an American soldier in Iraq.
(Staff photo by Merrilyn Lunsford)






Ozzie Rose, Carol Peters, Dylan DeSilva, Daniel Genotti
(left to right)










Hide this newspaper! Don't let Dylan DeSilva see it. The 12-year-old Brewster boy thinks he's going to a spaghetti dinner Saturday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Provincetown, to honor the troops who are serving in Iraq.

But it's really a dinner to honor this remarkable boy, who by now has sent more than 500 care packages to soldiers in Iraq, plus more than a dozen care packages to orphanages and schools in Iraq.

The Provincetown vets are honoring him because he has roots in town. His father, Paul DeSilva, was born in Provincetown, and his grandfather, the late Herman DeSilva, a native, served on a World War II Navy aircraft carrier that was sunk by a kamikaze attack in Sula Bay in 1945. Herman would surely have been proud of Dylan's efforts, and he probably received similar care packages when he was in the Navy. Herman came back to serve as chairman of the school committee, and as commander of the Provincetown American Legion Post 71. His widow, Louise, still lives in Provincetown.

She'll be there at the dinner, which starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, and all the money raised will be presented to Dylan to help him continue to send packages to soldiers.

State Sen. Rob O'Leary will present Dylan a citation from the Senate. Daniel Genotti, commander of the Lewis A. Young Post 3152, and Carol Peters, president of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, will give him a plaque. Lee Spatafore, president of the state VFW Ladies Auxiliary, will make a presentation, and Lynn Pike, past commander of the US Marine Corps Reserve Unit for the Cape and Islands, along with Commander Michael O'Connor, commander of the state VFW, will make presentations too.

With all this attention, you'd think Dylan's head might be spinning. But he's not that type of kid. He's a very modest boy, his mother, Michelle, said. If Dylan hears that someone is in need, he'll try to help them. He's always been that way.

It all started last fall, Michelle said, when Dylan and the others in his Boy Scout troop decided to send a package to Jared Farris, the son of one of his troop leaders, who was serving in Iraq. When Jared came back, he met with the Scouts to thank them for the package, and at that point, Dylan decided he was going to send Christmas packages to the soldiers. He got the support of his older brother JD, 18, and his sisters Jamie, 24, and Torri, 14. All four spent the money they were going to use to buy Christmas presents on preparing six Christmas packages for soldiers. They got the names of the soldiers from Otis Air National Guard Base, which arranged for the packages to be sent to Iraq.

Once Dylan got thank-you letters from the soldiers, he decided he was going to continue to send the packages. But there was only so much he could do, even with the help of his brother and sisters and parents. "I told the kids, you've either got to stop sending the packages or you've got to do some serious fund-raising," Michelle said. Dylan, who has "the heart of a servant," prayed about what to do, his mother said. "He came back and said, 'Mom, we can't stop sending the packages. Who is going to tell them we don't have the time or the money to help them?'" Michelle said. So he decided for them that they would keep on sending the packages, and the next step was to set up a bank account to accept donations. "The bank told him he was too young to start his own company, so we had to put 'Cape Cod Cares 4 the Troops' in our name," Michelle said. "But Dylan lets us know that he's the CEO of the company, and he is really the one who started it," she said. "He's been the incentive for all of us."

Serious fund-raising started last February. With the help of veterans, $6,000 was raised on Memorial Day when a flat bed truck parked in the K-Mart lot in Hyannis, and veterans stood at attention for 24 hours while people passing by made donations and six truckloads of goods were collected. The VFW in Provincetown gave Dylan $1,000, and the Orleans VFW and American Legion Post gave him $500. Word about his efforts have been spread by radio station WPXC 103 in Hyannis, which gives weekly updates on his collections.

Dylan has his own web page, with a slide show of many of the soldiers who have received packages. You can check it out at www.capecod4thetroops.com, or you can send a tax deductible donation to Dylan at 1831 Long Pond Road, Brewster, 02631, made out to "Cape Cod Cares for the Troops".

Dylan has a waiting list of more than 400 soldiers. Soldiers in Iraq send him the names of soldiers they know who never get letters or boxes from home so he can send them one. He's got plans to send out a lot of Christmas packages, and if anyone sends him a letter or e-mail with the name of a soldier, he puts that name down on the waiting list.

"My husband and I always told our children they needed to do community service, and to help out others, and they are all really loving," Michelle said. "Dylan thinks this is just a spaghetti dinner we'll be going to. He's quite a kid. He thinks that what he's doing is no big deal. I tell him, 'It's a good thing you're doing,'" Michelle said. "But he says, 'It's not about us, it's about the soldiers,'" Each package they send contains $40 to $50 worth of goods, and costs another $8 to $12 to mail. Each contains several pairs of socks, a bag of toiletries - including deodorant, foot powder, razors, ointment and shaving cream - a bag of snacks such as Slim Jims, granola bars, crackers and cookies, and a bag of candy. They'll put in flashlights, a deck of cards, and a few recent magazines, batteries and gloves. "It's a good-sized package," Michelle said.

Dylan's Grandfathers, Herman DeSilva served in the Navy during World War 11, and John Sullivan served in the Air Force, but other than the two grandfathers, the family has no one who has made the military a career. But in a few years they will. Dylan, who turns 13 in November, has already decided he's going to join the Marines. "Originally, I wanted to go in the Navy, but I figured out that I'm not good if I'm in a contained place, and I would not want to be contained on a ship, so I decided I want to be a Marine," he said.

But for the time being, Dylan is contained on Cape Cod, and all would agree the Cape is a better place with him around. "He's just a young boy who took an intense interest in sending these packages to the military," Ozzie Rose, past commander of the Provincetown VFW, said. "We used to send packages like that over to the soldiers during Korea and Vietnam, but now, so few of us veterans can keep active and on our feet, that it would be very difficult for us to do this. It takes a young man like Dylan to do this, and it is really so good for them to get these packages from home. It's really great what he is doing."

Lady luck links Scout & Soldier

Tech Sgt. Dennis Barrett
of Hyannis, a member of the
102nd Fighter Wing at Otis Air
National Guard Base, gives a
signed T-shirt to Dylan DeSilva,
a Boy Scout from Brewster.
They met by chance yesterday
at the Hyannis Marina.

Dylan has been sending packages
to soldiers in Iraq, and Barrett
was one of the lucky recipients.

(Staff photo by VINCENT DEWITT)






By Emily C. Dooley
CAPE COD TIMES: May 2, 2005 - Hyannis -

A chance meeting yesterday connected a Boy Scout
and a soldier bonded by war in Iraq.


Dylan DeSilva, 12, was raising money to send packages to troops in Iraq. He set up a table at the Hyannis Marina boat show. Dennis Barrett, 33, was grabbing a bite at Trader Ed's, also in the marina. Home two months from a half-year deployment to Camp Anaconda 42 miles north of Baghdad, the National Guard tech sergeant was visiting with family.

Unknown to them, they knew each other, just not by face. Dylan had sent packages to Barrett while he was stationed overseas. Barrett had e-mailed his thanks, but not a picture. More packages and letters were passed, but they never met. Until yesterday. "It was just a chance meeting," said Barrett, of Hyannis. Dylan walked into Trader Ed's looking for a hot dog. Someone told him a soldier was there, pointing out Barrett. They spoke briefly, but didn't trade names. Dylan, a home-schooled Boy Scout from Brewster, returned to his quest for funds for Cape Cod Cares for the Troops, a nonprofit operation he started to send supplies to Iraq.

Barrett continued his meal. Dylan returned not long after, this time clutching a T-shirt sent to him by another soldier. Barrett signed it, using just his surname. Dylan's mom, Michelle, recognized something in the signature. She flipped through a book of pictures, letters, thanks and commendations - all sent to her son for his efforts mailing more than 150 packages to local troops since November. She walked back to the restaurant. "Are you Dennis Barrett?" she asked. He said yes. And so began an introduction of friends known to each other for months. The bartender cried. People gathered around.The DeSilvas and Barrett marveled at their luck. "Just to actually have a face to put to a name you've been sending packages to - it does something to you," said Michelle DeSilva.

Over the months, Dylan had sent chocolates, batteries, magazines and toiletries. And Slim Jims, Barrett added. He loved the Slim Jims. "Just a little taste of home," Barrett said. "Stuff you couldn't get over there." Dylan started sending items with his Boy Scout Pack 73 because one of the kids had a brother overseas. When the brother came home, Dylan continued. "I just wanted to do more," he said yesterday.

So his mother contacted Otis Air National Guard Base and asked for more names. Dylan first used his allowance, and then enlisted the help of his older brother and two older sisters. He opened a bank account. They gave up their Christmas gifts. "Dylan is using all of his allowance," Michelle DeSilva said. "He's a poor guy these days." Word spread. Hyannis Marina called and asked Dylan if he wanted to set up a table at a boat show. Barrett was happy for the fortuitous meeting. "A lot of people look at what's going on (in Iraq) and just shut it out," he said. "Getting stuff from back home meant a lot." And so, on a second meeting of the day, Barrett returned the gesture. He gave Dylan a coin from Camp Anaconda, a uniform insignia and a 250 Iraqi dinar bill. "Not worth much," he said. "Not yet. We'll see what happens." On the way out, Dylan ran into a second solider he had sent gifts to from home. Another handshake, another thank you and Dylan was on his way.

Until next time. On Memorial Day, he will be collecting supplies and donations at the Capetown Plaza on Route 132 in Hyannis.

Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops
P.O. Box # 1444 Harwich, MA. 02645
(774) 216-9052