Skip to comments.Vets groups collect for troops (Western Washington State for Nat'l Guardsmen in Iraq)
Posted on 11/19/2008 4:34:36 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
About 375 stuffed Beanie Babies shipped out from Montesano to Iraq last week.
Local AMVETS members Jerry Hliboki and Bob Blewett sorted through new donations of toys and snack foods behind a large We Support Our Troops sign in the downtown Montesano window.
Montesano people, they give through the nose, Hliboki says. (But) its not enough.
Most items in the Operation Troop Support center get set aside for local Army National Guard soldiers recently deployed to Iraq. Others will go to the soldiers family members left on the Harbor.
Boxes and plastic packages covered floors and counter tops. Hliboki and Blewett inventory crayons, dolls and plastic cars. They check off crackers, candy and jerky. They say plenty of requests still need to be filled though.
The Montesano AMVETS Post No. 1926 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. No. 2455 have come together to sponsor the soldiers of Alpha Battery of the 146th Field Artillery Regiment, which arrived in Iraq last month. Hliboki says he is turning to the Harbor to raise money and gifts for the approximately 90 soldiers serving from throughout Western Washington.
Weve adopted the unit, he says.
Hliboki, who organized a picnic for the National Guard troops before they deployed, has continued working to honor the soldiers and comfort their families in their absence.
Were going to follow them the entire time theyre in Iraq, he says.
The veterans groups are now collecting money and gifts to send holiday care packages to each of the soldiers now working convoy security in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and other cities. A major expense is the hundreds of dollars in shipping costs.
The groups spent a couple hundred dollars last week to ship Montesano resident Michelle Pelts collection of Beanie Babies to Iraq for soldiers to hand out to children. The stuffed animals filled 19 boxes.
It took us forever to get them addressed, Blewett says with a smile.
The next project is getting the holiday packages together by Dec. 1, so they reach the soldiers by Christmas, he says. They expect to pay almost $1,100 to ship all the packages.
The group still hopes for more donations to send with the packages. They need a wide variety of gifts including money, batteries, prepaid phone cards, gloves, snack foods, stationery, foot powder and sun block.
They noted money donations allows them to buy similar items and keep the packages more consistent. They cannot accept perishable items or aerosol products.
Hliboki says volunteers will be available at the Main Street storage building from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Wednesdays, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays. They also have lists of needed supplies available.
In addition to providing packages for soldiers, the veterans groups are also organizing a Christmas dinner for the families of the soldiers. Hliboki says many local grocery stores in Montesano, Elma and Aberdeen have donated food, but more can always help.
Hliboki says any soldiers girlfriends, wives, husbands or family members are welcome. They can contact the veterans groups for more information.
They are also collecting gifts for soldiers children to receive during the mid-December celebration, he says. Many volunteers have been helping out with the collection and preparation process.
The volunteers are coming out of the woodwork to help them, Hliboki says.
Blewett says he is helping with the efforts as much as he can. His oldest son is in Iraq. He knows how important the seemingly simple gestures like care packages can boost morale.
Soldiers can buy socks and snacks in Iraq, Blewett says, but its small things from home that make all the difference.
What were trying to say is we know youre there, he says, and were thinking about you while youre gone.
HOW TO DONATE:
Can drop off items at the Operation Troop Support center at 314 S. Main St. in Montesano or call Hliboki at (360) 249-5156.
MANY are thinking of the troops. This group needs to hook up with OSOT. Let them know who OSOT is. They’ve adopted scores of units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If troop support groups work together, the troops benefit!
Contact Nadine or Sheryl. The more the merrier!