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Deadline approaches for overseas shipping

Everyone loves receiving gifts, and military personnel are no different.

With that knowledge, Joanna McGowin wants to help make sure they get those gifts and she is looking for few, good people to help her.

&uot;I just feel very patriotic and I feel bad because I’m not doing anything for them,&uot; she said recently. &uot;Their wants are so little and I think it is a little thing for us to do considering that they are risking their lives. What are a few hours in our life to bring a little cheer to them during the holidays.&uot;

McGowin plans to pull some people together to help her, and some soldiers are going to get some packages.

&uot;Anybody who wants to help get the presents and wrap them, they are welcome to give me a call,&uot; she said.

&uot;We’ll package the boxes up on Monday, Nov. 29 and Tuesday, Nov. 30th.&uot;

Also, groups interested in sending boxes can call the Alabama National Guard or there are several websites on the Internet that gives information on mailing packages to soldiers and how to get individual soldiers.

One such organization is a non-profit organization called Keystone Soldiers.

They can be found on the Internet at www.keystonesoldiers.com.

The group provides addresses for soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors serving overseas.

These men and women appreciate small tokens of support from the public and really enjoy letters and news from the U.S.

According to Sgt. Martin Dyson, a public affairs specialist with Alabama National Guard, there are no units deployed from Butler County at this time.

However, there are those who are deployed from the Camden area with the 2101st Transportation Company.

Dyson pointed out recently that the deadline for getting packages to the military personnel is fast approaching.

In fact, it is Dec. 4, 2004.

&uot;Also we have no way to help with mailing, so all packages must go through the post office,&uot; he said.

&uot;If a civic/church/school group want to adopt a unit we can provide them a point of contact and address.

We don’t give out individual soldier names due to the new HIPA Act.&uot;

Because of heightened security, individuals can no longer send

letters and packages to ‘Any Service Member,&uot; he added.

Operation USO Care Package is a program approved by the Department of Defense and is a safe, easy way for individuals and corporations to show their prayers and thoughts are with the country’s military.

&uot;These Care Packages help the USO bring a touch of home to our men and women in uniform,&uot; said Edward A. Powell, president and CEO of USO World Headquarters. &uot;The care packages contain an assortment of items the military have specifically requested, such as prepaid international calling cards, disposable cameras, toiletries, and sunscreen. They also include greetings from the American public.

Dyson said there are other ways to help.

&uot;In addition to sending care packages there are several other ways to support our troops without putting additional burden on the military mail system,&uot; he said.

&uot;The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) have two programs available. ‘Gifts from the Homefront’ lets people send PX gift certificates to soldiers, that they can redeem at any PX worldwide. They also have the ‘Help our Soldiers Call Home’ program, where people can purchase international phone cards for troops to call home over the holidays.&uot;

For more information on both programs, visit www.aafes.com.

To learn more about how to get involved and support &uot;Operation USO Care Package&uot; call 1-866-USO-GIVE or visit the website at www.usocares.org.

For those who want to send a package, there are specific items being requested.

These include:

Letters

Cigarettes

Powdered Gatorade or other flavored drinks are good. They are light, and help flavor the water that deployed personnel have to drink. Don’t send sugary drinks like pre-mixed Kool-Aid, since the sugar is dehydrating. Plain packets of Kool-Aid are ok.

Ramen noodles.

Batteries, especially D’s and AA’s.

If you know your serviceperson is male, anything that’s a stereotypical

&uot;guy&uot; magazine – Guns & Ammo, hunting, fishing, hot rods. If he doesn’t read it, he can trade it. Almost anything current is good. Do not send any current affairs/news magazines, like Time, Newsweek, or US News & World Report.

Stationery supplies – paper, envelopes, pens. Lots of it. He/she might want to share with his/her unit. They don’t need stamps, so don’t bother.

Homemade cookies. But be sure not to send chocolate, since it will melt. Send enough for him/her to share with a few buddies.

Hard candy. Chocolate is dehydrating, and it will melt and make a mess. Gum may also melt; so if you send it, pre-pack it in a Ziploc bag. The soldiers who come into contact with local kids are handing it out to them, so send lots.

Pictures – they’ll make him/her feel like a part of your family.

Homemade cards, handwritten letters, pictures drawn by your kids.

Newspaper clippings and comics.

CD’s, if you know he/she has a CD player and you know what type(s) of music he/she listens to.

€ Books, Mysteries are usually good. Paperbacks, please; no hardbacks (too heavy).

€ Q-tips and pipe cleaners, for cleaning his/her weapon.

€ DO NOT send things that require refrigeration or a lot of preparation.

€ Keep weight limits in mind. Your serviceperson

will may either have to carry or throw away most of what you send if they’re deployed. Try looking in the travel section of the drugstore for the

smaller, travel-size items.

€ Ivory soap – if he/she has to bathe in a river, it will float. Two small bars is better than one big one.

€ Don’t bother with shampoo; the cap will break in his/her rucksack and coat everything.

€ Chew, cigars, tobacco, cigarette papers.

€ Green or black boot socks

€ Shaving equipment. Make sure the shaving cream isn’t in an aerosol can, as some of those are being removed from packages. Send shaving gel instead.

€ Disposable cameras.

€ Sardines.

€ If you know they are deployed in the Middle East, they can use bug repellant to keep the sand fleas off.

€ Beef jerky. Be sure it’s BEEF, though, since pork products are not permitted in the Middle East.

€ Small packages of ground coffee or instant hot chocolate.

€ Word games, like crossword puzzles, anagrams, word search games, etc.

€ Nuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix, crackers.

€ Sunscreen.

€ Mail order catalogs, so military personnel can shop for friends/family back home.

€ Big Ziploc bags, to store things in and keep them dry and sand-free.

€ Seasonings for the MRE’s, including Mrs. Dash, hot sauce, and Tobasco sauce. Don’t send anything (like ketchup or soy sauce) in packets, because they may break and spill all through the soldier’s rucksack.

€ Quaker instant oatmeal (take the packets out of the box before mailing)

€ Baby wipes.

€ Include a card inside the package that gives your name, the recipients name, and the list of contents. That way, if a package breaks open during shipping/sorting, the contents can be reassembled and continue on to their destination.

€ Toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss. (Update: I’ve been told that soldiers are distributing dental care products to the Iraqi population, so extras would probably be very useful.)

€ Deodorant

€ Lotion. Remember, keep the bottles small, and put them in a plastic Ziploc bag before packing them.

€ Toilet paper and small packages of Kleenex. Consider using the Kleenex as packing material for other items. Don’t send big rolls of toilet paper – remember, they have to carry everything around.

€ Throat lozenges

€ Eye drops

€ Lip balm

€ Pain relievers, like Tylenol, Aspirin, Motrin, etc.

€ Jock itch powder. Again, remember to pre-pack it in a Ziploc bag.

€ Foot powder, packed in a Ziploc bag.

€ Goggle-type sunglasses, and eyeglass wipes (in a small Ziploc, to help keep out the sand)

€ Moleskin for sore feet.

€ DO NOT send anything that is scented to the Middle East; it attracts bugs.

€ Prepaid phone cards.

€ Tuna lunch-to-go packs.

It

is recommended that the following not be included in care

packages: pork products, pornography or items of a &uot;sexual

nature,&uot; sharp objects, and alcohol. Include your return address on the package so it is not misidentified as a &uot;suspicious&uot;

package.

Please

do use the U.S. Postal Service to ship care packages and

letters of support. Commercial shippers such as FedEx, Airborne,

UPS, etc. do not presently deliver in Iraq. The U.S.P.S. delivers

packages with APO addresses to the U.S. military, which, in turn,

delivers them to the appropriate units. Postage rates are the same as for domestic U.S.

For more information on McGowin’s work to help soldiers, call Saint Thomas Episcopal Church at 382-8914 before 1 p.m. or her home at 382-3068 before 8:30 p.m.