By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- For soldiers serving on distant shores, the simplest trappings of home can make a world of difference.
It’s the little luxuries most civilians take for granted that they miss most: A handwritten letter, a photograph, a bag of your favorite coffee, or even a puff of one’s preferred brand of cigar.
Curt Kendall, owner of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry, has been sending cigars, cigar cutters and lighters to enlisted soldiers for longer than he can remember.
“We’ve done it on and off for years,” Kendall said one recent afternoon. “But our focus on this has been really big over the past year. We’ve sent over thousands of cigars.”
Located on busy Route 28, the shop draws a high volume of clientele, and since opening its doors in 1997 many regular customers have become friends.
Over the years, Kendall said he’s gotten to know many local soldiers, and some of his employees have even been called to serve.
“We had a couple military guys working here. One of them will be shipping out pretty soon. You meet many military families,” he said. “These guys are over there serving their country, risking their lives. Some of them like cigars. It’s a no-brainer.”
Many of the enlisted cigar aficionados have expressed their appreciation via mail, email and even photographs of themselves savoring a muchappreciated Dunhill, Perdomo or Rocky Patel cigar.
During the past month, Kendall and his staff members packed up two large boxes, each one overflowing with some hundred or so cigars, and shipped them to two different military companies serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Another box will soon be sent to troops assisting in Haitian relief efforts.
“It never goes to the same people,” he said.
With a large cigar case placed conspicuously by the front register, store patrons and sales representatives are encouraged to spare a few stogies for likeminded U.S. soldiers on their way out. In turn, Twins Smoke Shop pitches in a few of its own cigars to match each donation.
Kendall said its not unusual for a customer to share their enlisted love one’s address with him after tossing a few cigars in the collection box.
“We’ll do the best we can to send some over to them,” he said.
Twins Smoke Shop is accepting donations of cigars on an ongoing basis at both its Londonderry shop, located at 128 Rockingham Road, and in Hooksett at 1275 Hooksett Road.
For more information, call 1-888-603-TWINS.
Curt Kendall, owner of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry, posed with a collection box that’s being filled with cigars to be enjoyed by countless soldiers serving in the Middle East.