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Care package supplies running low

Program has sent hundreds of packages to soldiers

Staff writer

A program that has sent more than 400 care packages to area soldiers deployed overseas is running perilously low on supplies and without new donations will run out in October.

A group of Marion County veterans’ organizations began sending care packages in 2005. For the first three years, the program sent nine packages per month, which has since declined to six per month, organizer Karen Chaput of Marion said.

Supplies have been low before, but never as low as they are right now. If supplies run out, the program will be suspended until enough donations come in to restart it.

American Legion Post 22 and associated Ladies Auxiliary and Legion Riders of Marion, Post 366 and associated Ladies Auxiliary, Legion Riders, and Sons of the American Legion of Hillsboro, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Post 6958 of Marion pay postage for the care packages.

Care packages mostly include snack foods, toiletries, and occasionally entertainment items. Gum and lip balm are especially useful because they help soldiers keep their mouths and lips from drying out in the arid climates of Iraq and Afghanistan, Chaput said.

Early in the project, McConnell Air Force Base of Wichita donated supplies to the program, but that support has ended. Other donors have included Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops, elementary and high school students, local businesses, and individuals.

Entertainment items, including DVDs and books, are mostly sent around Christmas. Author Jerry Engler has donated many books to the program, Chaput said.

The program has enlisted area churches to provide the names of soldiers to send packages to, Kevin Hoffer said. Hoffer, commander of American Legion Post 22 and a Vietnam War veteran, said he tried to put himself in the mindset of a soldier receiving a package.

“The fact that there are folks with you in their thoughts and minds and prayers, maybe even people you don’t know, means a lot,” Hoffer said.

He expects the program will expand to eight packages per month with the upcoming deployment of Lincolnville residents Josh and Brianna Moffet.

The care package program has run low on supplies before, but donors have always come through to keep it going, Gary Chaput of Marion said.

“It’s been blessed,” he said.

To make a donation or for more information, contact Hoffer at (620) 381-3904 or the Chaputs at (620) 382-2754.

Last modified Sept. 9, 2010

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