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May 12, 2012 7:23 PM

Community Collects Donations In Honor Of Fallen Soldier

Friends and family continuing to grieve for a local soldier killed in Afghanistan this week are trying to find ways to cope.

Saturday in Montgomery County, friends and family found a way to honor Dustin Gross by caring for the soldiers he left behind.

"I figured there'd be a good turnout but I expected nothing like this," says Jill Tipton, Dustin's aunt.

One after another, people stopped by the American Legion Post in Mount Sterling Saturday to honor Dustin, who died when a roadside bomb exploded.

"It's awful," says Jennifer Moyer, the event organizer. "This is one of our kids."

There is plenty of grief, plenty of shock and plenty of sadness the post. "Words can't describe the pain the family is going through," says Tipton. But it's not just family back home that's hurting. The soldiers he left behind are, too.

"These are they guys that were with Dustin the last days of his life and they became our family too," says Tipton. So the high school's Junior ROTC organized a collection for things like toothpaste and deodorant, things that make the battlefield a little more livable.

"To light their faces up," says Moyer. "Because some of those boys don't ever get anything from anybody."

They're also holding a silent auction all weekend to raise money for more supplies that will be shipped overseas in care packages. "This company witnessed what happened that day and we don't want them to think they're forgotten," says Moyer. "This is kind of a healing process as well and the more things we can do to help others the better we feel."

If you would like to help the soldiers in honor of Dustin Gross, you can do so by donating to the Montgomery County High School Junior ROTC or Air Force recruiting stations in Lexington.

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