Troop Support: Items needed for service personnel to be collected Tuesday at VFW

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Sept 24, 2007 - People don't really miss the small amenties of life like toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo until they can't have them — like U.S. troops in the arid climes of Iraq and Afghanistan.

�It�s not like they can go to the store around the corner to restock,� said Terry Rowe, quartermaster for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8560 in Sulphur Springs. "They�re in the desert. They don�t always have the items we take for granted."

Come Tuesday, VFW members and the post's Ladies Auxiliary hope to help change that for soldiers serving overseas by teaming with Soldiers Angels, East Texas Broadcasting Inc. and others to collect items for care packages for service personnel.

Truckin’ For the Troops will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the VFW Hall on Veterans Drive in Sulphur Springs. The items will be collected at a truck donated by Lone Star Dodge during a radio broadcast.

Community members, businesses and organizations can drive to the VFW and drop off a number of personal hygiene and leisure time items or donate money. Monetary donations will help buy backpacks to put the items in and pay for shipping costs, according to Susie Lamb from the Daingerfield Soldiers Angels group, which is heading up the Truckin’ For the Troops drive in the Northeast Texas area.

Items needed include toothpaste, dental floss, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, combs, soap, cotton swabs, toothbrush, lip balm, lotion, nail clippers and tissue. Other basics include pajama pants, T-shirts, boxer shorts and socks.

Baby wipes or “wet naps” are especially needed as water is not always available. 

�I want to help ensure that a soldier is able to wash his face in th desert,� Lamb said. "It doesn�t matter about male, female, race, color or religion. They volunteered during war time to serve, to work for the movement of future generations. I want to see that they have the basic necessities."

Another item requested may seem a bit frivolous but is literally a life saver: Silly String. The product, generally available for about $1 a can, has been used to locate trip wires for explosive devices, but is light enough not to set them off, Lamb explained.

International phone cards are also items which soldiers find invaluable to call home and speak with their loved ones. Also requested are handheld games (along with AA batteries to keep them going) and puzzle books, which the service members can use to pass the time when not on missions.

Other items service personnel have indicated they especially like to receive are snacks. Those donating snacks at Truckin’ For the Troops should submit non-perishable treats such as candy, popcorn and beef jerky. All need to be individually packaged.

Anyone who wants to donate but is unable to leave items at the VFW from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow, can do so at the far side of the VFW hall in the morning hours Tuesday, or call 903-885-1546 or 903-884-4666 to make other arrangements.

Star Country Radio will have post cards which county residents can use to write personal messages to troops serving abroad and help bolster morale and show support. Messages may contain e-mail or return addresses, but no guarantee can be made that the service person who receives the card will be able to write back.

Toxic Performance and Off Road, Wesley House, Discount Wheel and Tire, and Spot Brewery in Commerce have all already contributed to Soldiers Angels and Truckin’ For the Troops. On Sept. 28, Chiro-Rehab is slated to hold a function to assist the program, as is Medicine Chest South on Oct. 3, Sulphur Spring Floral Etc. on Oct. 10, Lone Star Dodge on OCt. 12, and Tractor Supply on Oct. 28, according to Dave Kirkpatrick with Star Country Radio/East Texas Broadcasting Inc.

All items collected for Truckin’ For the Troops will be given to Soldiers Angels, will be packaged and shipped to service personnel overseas.

Soldiers Angels is a  non-profit organization started in 2003 to provide aid and comfort to the military and its families, provide immediate response to hard situations, and make sure no soldier feels unloved, starting with letters, care pacakges and comfort items to the deployed, according to http://soldiersangels.org/.

Soldiers Angels was formed by a mother, Patti Patton-Bader, after her son wrote home in the summer of 2003, expressing concern for soldiers stationed with him in Iraq who didn’t receive any mail or support from home. Patton-Bader contacted friends and family, and each began writing to one to two soldiers each. A few months later the idea to boost troop morale had spread to the Internet and picked up "angels" worldwide, including merchants donating money and items for care packages.

It now bolsters a number of programs and services for enlisted, injured and their families including Armor Up, Blankets of Hope, Cards Plus Team, Chaplain Support Team, First Response Backpacks, Gasp, Hero Packs, Holidays for Heroes, Living Legends, Operation Outreach, Operation Phone Home, Operation Top Knot, Scarves, SOS: Kids, Valour-IT, Veterans Support and Wounded TLC. 

More information about Soldiers Angels is available on the Internet: http://soldiersangels.org/

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