Care Packages for Iowa National Guard Soldiers

By Mark Geary, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan won't be able to simply run to a convenience store to buy whatever they need. That's why care packages are so important.

It takes awhile for mail to reach overseas, so groups are already starting to pack boxes before Iowans even set foot on the ground.

An assortment of treats, snacks and supplies fill a room at Iowa City's Melrose Meadows Retirement Community.

"I get a feeling of satisfaction that I'm doing something for these wonderful people that could be our children or our grandchildren," resident Jackie Sullivan said.

All of the items should bring smiles to the faces of the Iowa soldiers when they rip open the boxes in Afghanistan later this year.

"I'm in tears. It gives me a good feeling," resident Katie Johnson. "I understand what they need. If it's a little love from home, I hope I have helped."

Resident Louise Jones said, "I worry about them, but I think they're ready for it."

Many of the women know how valuable care packages are to deployed soldiers because their husbands served in the military decades ago.

"This has nothing to do with how I feel about the war. This has to do with how I feel about the troops," Sullivan said.

Jones said, "It's great. This is what we do. This is what we should do to remember those guys. We forget them sometimes."

Highland High School students also pitched in to help. Everyone packed as much stuff as possible into each box. Some even tossed in a few jokes.

"I wanted to send them a few laughs," Jones said.

While it might be easy to take these kinds of items for granted in America, they're like gold in Afghanistan and almost like a hug from back home. By the end of the morning, the group had packed thirty boxes filled with about $1400 worth of food and supplies.

The Iowa Troop Pantry and Johnson County Military Affairs helped organize this event. They'll host similar events in the coming weeks and months.

If you'd like to donate money or supplies to the Iowa Troop Pantry, call 319.930.8333 or visit 201 East Benton Street in Iowa City. To see a list of suggested items to donate, visit: http://jcmaa.org/Iowa_Troop_Pantry.html
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