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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gift packages for troops need postage

Kim Matzke has an early Christmas present to send to the National Guard soldiers serving in northern Iraq.

Actually, she has 302 boxes to send – and she needs a little help with the postage.

The soldiers, all part of the 116th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq last December, are due to come home next month or soon thereafter.

Matzke, of Rose Lake, would like to replenish their basic supplies before the end of their tour of duty. And if this shipment is a tad late, well, there are plenty of other soldiers who can use it, she said.

“There’s always a need for things,” Matzke said. “Government issue is stretched.”

Matzke sent 702 boxes to the soldiers in the past year filled with items such as shampoo, toilet paper, coffee, hot chocolate, cough drops, candy and bug spray – lots and lots of bug spray. She figures she spent about $6,000 on postage, which was covered mostly by donations from individuals.

She would have gotten the last 300 boxes out earlier, but for the birth of her third child, Montana, who’s now 7 weeks old.

Her husband, Shawn Matzke, was supposed to be going with the 1-163rd Infantry Unit, which is part of the 116th BCT, but was discharged because of kidney stones. He plans to go with them on their next tour of duty, she said.

The Matzkes send the boxes to a soldier at the forward operating base in northern Iraq, who then distributes the goods among fellow soldiers. One popular item is hard candy to give to the Iraqi children, Kim Matzke said.

Every now and then, the Matzkes get a phone call from Iraq thanking them.

“They are very grateful,” she said. “I want to finish up their tour, knowing I’ve done some good.”

Each box costs $7.80 to send. Matzke asks that anyone wanting to help give her a call at (208) 765-2548 and arrange to meet her at the post office.

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