About a year ago there was an article in The Spokesman-Review by a mother in Spokane who had two sons serving in Iraq. They had written asking her to urge the people of Spokane to write letters and send gift boxes to our men and women there, showing their appreciation and support of our troops serving in that dangerous area.
As a result, the residents of Sunny Creek Residential Community, in the Latah Valley in south Spokane, where I live, collected items our service men and women could use to make their life a bit more comfortable and enjoyable in that difficult desert climate, and help break the monotony of their off-duty hours.
More recently, I contacted the American Red Cross in Spokane and was given the address of two units from Washington – one from Spokane and another from Ephrata – and we have sent boxes. In response, I received letters of appreciation from the commanding officers of both units.
In these letters we were given a brief but encouraging insight into the mission of outreach they are performing that I would like to share.
Even in those short letters there were four points that came through clearly. First, after their expression of appreciation, was the deplorable fact that there are soldiers serving in their units who have not received mail, parcels or correspondence of any kind since they were deployed to the area.
Second, those receiving the boxes definitely “share the wealth” when packages come in.
Third, included is an attached list of items that would be helpful for anyone to send – foot powder, deodorants, tooth paste and brushes, wipes, homemade cookies, trail mix, granola bars (no chocolate in these last three items that will melt), playing cards, games, crossword puzzle books, jigsaw puzzles, batteries for games, Frisbees, air fresheners (car), stationery, holiday decorations, etc. – also needed are new pencils, gum and hard candy that the platoon can pass out to children.
Fourth was the pride of our service men and women in what they are doing as they serve over there, and their sense of purpose.
First Lt. Anne Skona, commander 1161st Task Force, writes that her platoon is currently detached from their company. “We are at Camp Liberty, which is on Victory Base Complex (VBC) near the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP),” she wrote. “Our unit drives M915 trucks, which you might better recognize as military style semi-trucks, transporting pallets of water all over the place to support not only our soldiers, and the contractors rebuilding the city, but also water to the civilians of Baghdad. This is a very important mission and I am proud to be in charge of such a great platoon.”
She concluded, “Having people like you back home supporting us means so much to the troops. Thank you very much for all you do for us and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!”
In the second letter received, Capt. Leslie Jines Jr., 1161st Company Task Force, Camp Taji, Iraq, wrote: “During this critical time in Iraq’s history, it is so important for our soldiers in harm’s way to feel the love and support of their fellow countryman. You are the reason we wear the uniform and are willing to sacrifice for the concept of liberty. Your kindness reminds us that we have the support of our countrymen, and also gives us a little piece of home.”
If anyone in Spokane is interested in writing to our troops in Iraq, or undertaking the simple support project of sending gift boxes to our troops there, you may obtain deployed service member addresses by contacting the American Red Cross office in Spokane, at (509) 326-3330.
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