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Rotary Club collecting items for Marines

YOAKUM - One mother's interest in sending her Marine son a taste of home has grown into an effort to make sure a lot more Marines will receive care packages from the States this Christmas season.

http://thevictoriaadvocate.com/front/story/3079523p-3572207c.html


October 6, 2005

BARRY HALVORSON
Victoria Advocate

YOAKUM - One mother's interest in sending her Marine son a taste of home has grown into an effort to make sure a lot more Marines will receive care packages from the States this Christmas season.


Volunteering to bring a touch of home to troops overseas, Yoakum's Carroll Sharp and Barbara Wood fill up boxes with good collected by the Yoakum, Hallettsville, Schulenburg, Shiner and Flatonia Rotary clubs and the Yoakum Pilot Club to go into care packages for U.S. Marines stationed in Iraq. Sharp is a member of both the Yoakum Rotary and Pilot Club. Wood is president of the Yoakum Pilot Club.



The local Rotary Club District, which includes Yoakum, Hallettsville, Schulenburg, Shiner and Flatonia, and the Yoakum Pilot Club have been collecting donations and cash contributions to send food, personal hygiene items and other welcome items to the Marine Parents program, based in Columbia, Mo. On Wednesday, volunteers from the Yoakum Rotary and Pilot clubs were packing up those donations

Once they arrive in Missouri, the goods will be sorted into smaller, personal care packages and sent to military personnel deployed overseas.

"While some are distributed generally, we actually arranged for our donations to all go to the same Marine unit in Iraq," Rotarian Bill Lopez said. "We kind of wanted it to be like we are adopting those particular soldiers."

The items were collected at the law offices of Kvitna, Kvitna and Kvitna in Yoakum. Charles Kvitna Sr. approved the program after one of his employees, Rhonda Santiago, started putting together care packages of her own to send to her son, Marine Sgt. Brian Cornel.

"I started doing the packages for him when he was deployed to Iraq in January," she said. "Mr. Kvitna heard about it and started paying the postage for me. It's encouraging to see so many people want to participate, particularly wanting to send things to Marines. All of our service people deployed overseas deserve all the support that we can give them."

While collecting a wide variety of food and comfort items, Lopez said the Rotary clubs were careful to follow the guidelines established by the military about what is being sent. While all the items will be appreciated, he said, some will be more popular than others.

"They seem to really enjoy receiving beef jerky and unscented Handi Wipes," he said. "Those are things that they can put in the pockets before a mission. When you get out in the field, sometimes it's hard to get food or find a way to clean up."

According to the Marine Parents Web site, the most requested items are snacks and non-perishable food items, undershirts (white, short sleeve), socks, tobacco products, single-use cameras, pre-sweetened flavored soft drink mixes, letters of support and pre-paid military calling cards.

Lopez estimated that the various Rotary and Pilot clubs involved in the project have collected donations and cash contributions of approximately $5,000. The cash is needed to help cover the shipping costs of sending the items to Missouri for personalized packaging.

"I know it seems Christmas is a while off," Lopez said. "But we actually need to get everything sent to Missouri by Oct. 15 to make sure it arrives in time for Christmas."

Santiago said that she's proud of her community and even more proud of her son for the commitment he's made to his country and freedom.

"There have been a lot of disasters happen and a lot of relief efforts started since the war began," she said. "And while it isn't always in the headlines now, our soldiers are still there and still following orders. I think that woman protesting in Crawford (Cindy Sheehan) actually brings disgrace to her son. My son knew what he was doing and re-enlisted in the Marines to make a difference in the world. Her actions and those like her are smearing his honor. We're there and we need to complete the mission and bring freedom to those people or the deaths that have happened will be as meaningless as the protesters claim they are."


Barry Halvorson is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-798-3888 or hvilladv@vicad.com.