Downtown business collecting items to send to troops

  • Cranberry Corners will be collecting items to send to troops through is Sunday, Dec. 15.
    Cranberry Corners will be collecting items to send to troops through is Sunday, Dec. 15.

Things have changed considerably since President George W. Bush sent the first troops to Iraq in 2001. The conflict has spanned three administrations and spread to include Afghanistan. Troop numbers on the ground have diminished, but we still have thousands of troops on the ground fighting in what is now known as Operation Enduring Freedom.
Here at home, Kathy Aerts, owner of Cranberry Corners, is still sending Christmas packages to cheer the troops in Afghanistan. It’s a promise she made in 2001 when she sent the first boxes to her son-in-law, Brad Bonnell, and his company.
“We even sent Christmas lights,” Aerts said, “and I promised to send them every year until the war was over.
“Back then, everyone was sending boxes—church groups, school classes-everyone. Now, it’s like very few remember they are still there. But here at Cranberry Corners, it’s become a tradition. We all love it.”
“The guys love it and we love it because of the feedback we get,” said Amanda Broad, who has been working with Aerts on the project since the first. “They get to share and have Christmas right there in their tent. To know they are sitting there, opening their boxes and playing cards and eating the goodies we send—it makes us feel good.”
Aerts and the crew at Cranberry Corners try to send boxes to local soldiers and their platoons.
“We are looking for anyone who knows of a deployed soldier who would like to receive a care package from their hometown. We’d be happy to include them in our mailing,” Aerts said.
The list of requested items has changed somewhat over the years. Calling cards, stationary and postage are no longer needed.
“Everyone has access to computers and cell phones now,” Aerts said.
Also gone from the list are Ramen Noodles and hard candy. Now it’s summer sausage/salami and cheese sets that don’t require refrigeration.
“Those were a big hit. One of the notes we got from a soldier said it felt so much like home to have Christmasy snacks,” Aerts said.
Other popular items include
• hand warmers (can be found in the hunting department)
• beef jerky
• individual packs of instant soup or coffee
• batteries
• Cottonelle hand wipes
• razors
• black men’s socks
• hotel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap
• tooth brushes and
• frisbees
• playing and game cards
Also cash is needed to cover shipping costs.
Deadline to make a donation is Sunday, Dec. 15.