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Shoeboxes for Soldiers effort continuing in Monett area

Monday, October 25, 2010

Details about the ongoing Shoeboxes for Soldiers program were shared with the Monett Kiwanis Club at last week's meeting.

The speaker, a retired First Sergeant from Barry County, said he learned in June about the program that sends boxes of supplies to active duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The First Sergeant had been listening to KTTS radio, heard about the program and went to speak directly with organizer and talk show host Andy Taylor.

Shoeboxes for Soldiers invites the public to take part in supporting active servicemen and women. Anyone can assemble a box and take it in for shipment. The usual shipping cost is $13 a box.

Recommended items to send in a shoebox are:

* Candy, heat resistant varieties, throat drops and Twizzlers.

* Paper and envelopes for correspondence and pens.

* Drink mixes, including instant coffee and Gatorade; powered drink mixes.

* Games, such as board games, checkers, travel-sized chess sets, crossword puzzles, playing cards and Sudoku books.

* Music recordings, compact discs, tapes and DVDs.

* Books, novels, magazines and newspapers.

* Hygiene items such as baby wipes, deodorant, foot power, hand lotion, nail clippers, Q-Tips, shampoo, sunscreen and tissues.

* General items such as plastic spoons, small batteries, duct tape, disposable cameras, flashlights, battery-powered fans, fly swatters, pre-paid phone cards and socks.

* Seasonal items such as Christmas decorations.

Taylor recommended the First Sergeant prepare for one of the shipments later in the year. The speaker, however, said he was impatient to help and managed to organize an entire shipment in two weeks, raising $10,000 in cash and material to cover expenses. Collections were taken at the American Legion Home in Monett, Walmart in Cassville and Monett and the National Guard armories in Monett and Pierce City.

The first box left on the First Sergeant's doorstep came from Alvin Schad, who had served for two years as a prisoner during the Korean War. Schad included a letter, expressing his appreciation for what the soldiers were doing, acknowledging "freedom is not free."

The First Sergeant said the letter was so meaningful copies were included in each of the boxes shipped locally. Schad was in turn honored for his own service. Sergeant Charlene Sherrill, who received one of the boxes in Afghanistan, arranged for a United States flag flown in the combat zone to be secured for Schad, which she presented to him.

Similar programs are underway around the country, the speaker said. Collections are presently being taken for the next shipment, which will arrive for Christmas. Deadline for making that shipment is Nov. 26.

Soldiers do not get all the supplies they need for duty, the First Sergeant said. Special operations soldiers, for example, need batteries to run their equipment. A box can be sent to a specific soldier if the donor knows that soldier's name and unit. Often recipients will share what they receive with their fellow soldiers.

"The main thing is it helps morale," the speaker said. "It shows we care."

Boxes can be dropped off at UMB Bank on Broadway in downtown Monett, at the American Legion Home in Monett from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays or at to the Monett or Pierce City armories.

Kiwanis President Frank Washburn presided at the meeting. Jon Suit was the program chairman. The speaker was introduced by Dayton Mackey.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesday for a meal and a program. This week the club is meeting at the Southwest Area Career Center.

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