May 14, 2007

Pop cans for soldiers

$500 from a local can collection went toward shipping items to Iraq

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Aluminum cans are worth a lot these days, especially when the money can be used to ship food and other items overseas to the US soldiers.

That’s what the Dassel Veterans Memorial Foundation has done with the money that was collected from its can trailer last month.

The need arose after funds from the WELCA women of Gethsemane Lutheran Church of Dassel were getting too low to support a program that shipped donated items to Iraq.

Jerry and Ann Bollman and other members of Gethsemane have come together to collect items each week to be sent to soldiers in Iraq.

The project began in March after the news that duties in Iraq were being extended. Janet Werner suggested the congregation do something for the soldiers.

Ann Bollman spoke with her grandson, Alex, of Fargo who is currently serving in Iraq, to see how they should handle this project.

Alex Bollman put together a list of items he and his fellow soldiers would find useful including triple A batteries, which aren’t sold in Iraq, according to Ann Bollman.

Possibly the most requested item from the soldiers was Grandma Anne’s homemade banana bread.

“When we first got the request, Jerry and I were up until midnight and made 18 loaves of bread. We sent them off the next day,” she said.

Now, she freezes a number of loaves, packages them, and they arrive in Iraq five to seven days later, she said.

Her grandson explained that they put the small loaves in side pockets of their uniforms and snack on them when they are out on patrol.

Other items include dry beverage mixes that can be added to water, beef jerky, white towels, and Chex mix.

Each Sunday, the Bollmans collect the items in the box at church and send the items out the next day.

When Alex receives the box, he distributes the items throughout his platoon, according to Bollman.

There are three young men, also members of Gethsemane, that will be leaving for Iraq in June, Brandon Fank, along with Travis, and Tony Schmeising, according to Ann Bollman.

“We will then pack boxes for them as well,” she said.

Postage has been covered by the WELCA women of Gethsemane, but they were beginning to run low on funds and the Bollmans were asked to find other means.

Gerry informed Dean Gayner, also of Dassel, about this potential financial problem. Gayner quickly assured him he might be able to help.

Gayner went back to the Dassel Veterans Memorial Foundation and explained the issue. He recommended donating $500 from the money received from the aluminum can collection trailer, currently located in the Dassel Liquor store’s parking lot.

“This is an excellent program because they get what they ask for, and it goes directly to the men and women and not another institution,” Gayner said.

With shipping costing the group approximately eight dollars a box, the money received is enough to ship 62 boxes to Iraq.

“It came at the right time,” Bollman said. “It was really draining the treasury,” she said.

“It was an answer to our prayers,” she said.

When they first began the project in March, the Bollmans were sending out three packages a week, now they usually send one, depending on the amount donated. “I hope the enthusiasm keeps up.”

“It’s a good feeling that you’re doing something for them. It makes us feel a little closer to our grandson,” Bollman said.

Letter of gratitude

Jerry Bollman encouraged Gayner to type of letter that will be shipped along with the items, it reads:

Dear Veteran,

Yes, you are a full fledged American Veteran in a far distant land. You are risking your life for every American, young or old.

The supplies in this box are just a small thank you from another group of veterans from wars past. You are now one of us, and we are proud to call you a fellow veteran.

We hope and pray for your safe return to the USA to join your family and friends. We know that they miss you very much.

Upon leaving the service we invite you to join the American Legion or VFW, or even both. These are two organizations that are very powerful when it comes to fighting for veteran’s benefits in Congress or State houses.

Again, thank you for your service to our country. This war like others will be debated for years to come, but your service will never be in question. God bless you.

Yours truly

Dean Gayner

Paul F. Dille Post Am. Legion

Donation box

If anyone is interested in donating items to send to soldiers in Iraq, there will be a drop box at the Enterprise-Dispatch in Cokato.

Items on the list include:

Powder drink mixes, Trail mix, beef jerky, mixed nuts and peanuts, coffee, white bath towels, AAA batteries, Febreeze spray bottles (no aerosol), magazines, paperback books, loaves of bread, arts and crafts and letters from children, Ziploc bags, baby wipes, videos, and puzzle books.

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