Cigars from home make holidays a bit merrier for local troops

Cigars from home make holidays a bit merrier for local troops

Kelley Fagnant, owner of Smokestack Cigar Shop on Smith Street, holds a crate full of the cigar brands she and others sent to military personnel serving in Afghanistan over the holidays. Fagnant says giving soldiers a small taste of home is the least she can do in honor of their service. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Military men and women are making big sacrifices every day, says Kelley Fagnant, so the least she can do is make their day now and then.

Fagnant, owner of the Smokestack Cigar Shop at 2003 Smith St., made the holidays a little merrier for a few of those serving their country in Afghanistan. With the help of friends, she sent several packages containing more than 400 cigars to about 15 of her customers and their friends.

Fagnant told The Breeze that giving her military friends a small taste of home, cigars from the shop they come to when they're stateside, is a small token of gratitude given the sacrifices they are making for her.

"It means so much to them," she said. "If I can put a smile on their face for one day by giving them a little something extra, that's really the least I can do."

According to Fagnant, a Smithfield resident, this is the third or fourth time she's run a collection effort and sent cigars to troops since she opened seven years ago. It wouldn't happen without the help of her regular customers and distributors, who regularly donate cigars to the cause.

A crate placed in the corner of Smokestack's humidor quickly filled up with the cigar brands military personnel love. She and Smokestack donated many of the cigars, said Fagnant, but it was those who frequent her shop that made the crate overflow.

"It was really a joint effort for a worthy cause," she said.

A glass case in the back corner of the Smokestack Cigar Shop contains some of the letters and mementos sent to Fagnant from grateful troops.

"Words cannot express how grateful and humbled we are by your truly generous gift," reads one letter from Technical Sgt. Manny Arias and Maj. Chris Allen, of the 445th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in Afghanistan. "There is no better feeling than being able to kick back after a long day and relax with a good cigar. Thank you so much for making this possible. We will never forget this for the rest of our lives."

The gifts of gratitude from her military friends "mean everything," said Fagnant, and are a daily reminder to always be grateful.

"We can't forget that they're there," she said.

Knowing that military men like Arias and Allen are enjoying her cigars on their one night off is quite a feeling, said Fagnant, and one she wants to have many more times.

Technical Sgt. Manny Arias and Maj. Chris Allen, of the 445th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, serving in Afghanistan, enjoy cigars sent by the owner and customers of Smokestack Cigar Shop in North Providence.