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Care packages continue for support of deployed troops

The Cornell and Holcombe Camaraderie Club has made it their mission to ensure service people from the area have what they need. Since 2007, the senior citizens group, who formed the Support the Troops program, has shipped 2,110 care packages to 146 different soldiers.

Currently, Support the Troops ships to 10 soldiers, including the 128th Infantry of Eau Claire. While there are those serving from Cadott, Cornell and Holcombe, others are not from the area, but have local ties through family members.

“We have several local deployed soldiers that are from this area,” said Kathy Swanson, Support the Troops treasurer. “…Our soldiers have been told, if there’s anybody in their unit who has nobody, that they’re not getting any mail at all, if there’s somebody they know who needs encouragement, we can send to them, too.”

The group has funds to ship items and relies on many donations from community partners, but with more soldiers expected to be deployed, the Support the Troops program needs support of its own.

“Postage for each box right now, is $18.45,” said Swanson.

Every two weeks, it costs between $40 and $50 to pack each box, not counting the postage. The program does get somewhat of a break from the postal system, as the mail is considered APO.

“It does help a little bit,” said Swanson. “If anybody knows of any grants or any place we can look for money…we don’t turn down any donations – of items or money.”

Monetary donations are tax deductible, but non-perishable items (with the exception of chocolate) are also accepted, including beef jerky, instant coffee, hot chocolate packets, herbal tea, sunflower seeds, protein and granola bars, pretzels, Cheetos, Pringles, crackers, Chex Mix, trail mix, popcorn, dried fruit and nuts, dry soup mix, Ramen, gum, hard candy, breath mints, cough drops, instant oatmeal packets and small boxes of cereal.

Snacks aren’t the only thing deployed soldiers don’t have access to, as they also receive baby wipes, liquid soap, disposable razors, sunscreen, bug spray, toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, files, shampoo, deodorant, combs, hair brushes, playing cards, dice, Nerf balls, crossword puzzle books, word search books, paperback books, pens, stationary/ envelopes, fly swatters, small tool kits, dust masks and small Bibles.

The Camaraderie Club has received letters of thanks from the soldiers, saying how much the care packages are appreciated. A couple have even brought back flags that hung over their camps in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Swanson says she has faith that a way will be provided for donations to continue the program and that she remembers how soldiers were treated when they returned from Vietnam, with a complete lack of respect and poor treatment.

“These soldiers are protecting our freedom,” said Swanson. “That’s not going to happen to another soldier if I can help it.”