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Police collect donations for officer serving in Cuba

Special photo Members of the Clayton County Police Department’s Explorers Post show off Christmas cards created for Officer Stern’s Army National Guard unit. The unit is stationed at Guantanamo Bay. 

Special photo Members of the Clayton County Police Department’s Explorers Post show off Christmas cards created for Officer Stern’s Army National Guard unit. The unit is stationed at Guantanamo Bay. 

The National Guard unit of a Clayton County police officer, who is serving in Cuba, will be getting a Christmas package from donations collected throughout the community.

Officer Ronald Stern got called up for a tour of duty at Guantanamo Bay, where he will spend his holiday. This is his second tour of duty since joining the police department in 2007. He was first sent to Iraq, to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Officer Eddie Soto said it is important for Stern to know he has support from his community.

"He is part of the Clayton County police family, and even though he is far away from family and friends, we want him and his unit to enjoy a great Christmas," Soto said.

Donations of non-perishable food items and personal care products are being accepted on, or before, Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the police headquarters at 7911 N. McDonough St., Jonesboro; at the South Precinct, 1669 Flicker Road, Jonesboro; and at the North Precinct, 6335 Church St., in Riverdale.

Supporters can also e-mail community.affairs@co.clayton.ga.us, or call (770) 477-3539, for more information, or to make a donation.

Members of the police department's Explorer post are helping to coordinate the donations, and created the donation boxes.

Soto said soldiers are accustomed to getting packages from their family, but not the community.

"I think he will be happy to see that the department really cares about him," said Soto. "Normally, soldiers get packages from their families. But when it comes from the community, and people you work with, it means a lot."

Soto said he hopes the community will come together to show their support for Stern and his National Guard unit.

"I know we, as a department, appreciate the support the community shows for our fellow officers," he said. "It really means a lot."

Also known as Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay is home to the oldest U.S. base overseas, and is the only one in a Communist country. The base is about 400 air miles from Miami.

In December 1903, the United States leased the 45 square miles of land and water for use as a coaling or fueling station.

Guantanamo Bay has been home to about 700 to 800 detainees, mostly terrorist suspects, since 2002.