-Support for soldiers during holidays needed
U.S. service personnel are still fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, 17 years after the start of the conflict in the Middle East. As Christmas draws near, there are about 14,000 troops deployed to that far away country, and about 750 still remain in Iraq.
“People think the soldiers have all come home,” says Kathy Aerts, owner of Cranberry Corners, “but they are still there.”
And they still need a little taste of home for the holidays.
Operation Wise Man has been supplying that little bit of comfort since the fighting began in 2001. Aerts’ son-in-law, Brad Bonnell, was one of the first wave to be deployed to Iraq. His wife and Aerts’ daughter, Jennifer, took on the task of providing Christmas cheer to his unit by collecting gifts to send. The response was so overwhelming that they ended up providing several units with boxes of goodies from home.
They have been sending Christmas cheer every year since.
“It’s a tradition for us,” Aerts said. “Everybody at the shop really enjoys it.”
This year’s most requested items include phone cards; hand-held games; decks of playing cards; DVDs; AA and D batteries; disposable cameras; stationary supplies and stamps; news, entertainment and sports magazines; Mach III razor blades; Q-Tips; Ivory soap (the fact that Ivory floats can be important if you are bathing in a river); white socks; bug repellent; and of course, food, especially meat and cheese assortments, salami, hard candy, sardines, hot sauce, Mrs. Dash and instant hot chocolate.
Cash is also needed to help defray the cost of shipping. Recently the elves at Cranberry Corners who sort, wrap and box the gift items for shipment have had to chip in to send the packages overseas.
Merchandise and donations can be dropped off at Cranberry Corners, 44 North Park Street, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday- Saturday until Friday, Dec. 15.
“We are also looking for names of those serving who would enjoy a Christmas box from home,” Aerts, who is hoping for a good response this year, says.
Call Cranberry Corners, 706-864-6577 to leave a name or for more information.