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Cards collected for troops

November 15, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The kindergarten students from Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown decorated their orange and purple construction paper cards with cheerful stickers and simple crayon drawings.

The sixth-graders at Clear Spring Elementary drew more elaborate pictures on their handmade cards - American flags flying over Christmas trees, camouflaged soldiers, Humvees and greetings: "Happy Holidays! You are brave soldiers! Thank you for fighting for our country! We hope you are safe! We love you!"

Members of the South Washington County Military Support Group collected more than 13,000 handmade, computer-generated and store-bought cards for U.S. troops overseas from schoolchildren, civic organizations, clubs, churches, businesses, Scout troops and families in the Tri-State area and beyond. Many cards included return postal addresses and e-mail addresses so soldiers could write back.

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The Boonsboro-based military support group had hoped for at least 3,000 cards, said member Dick Kaetzel of Rohrersville.

"We had tremendous support," said member Lynn Jones, who came up with the idea for the holiday card drive.

This will be the first Christmas that Jones spends without her daughter, Army Pvt. 1st Class Kelly Hurlbrink, or her son, Army Spc. Kevin Hurlbrink. Both are in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division.

"We got Happy Hanukkah cards. We got Happy Kwanzaa cards. We got all kinds of stuff," said Jones, of Keedysville. "It'll make you cry some of the stuff people wrote. I know it warmed all of our hearts."

Support group members on Thursday night boxed their last shipment of cards and sent them Friday to loved ones stationed in Iraq. The recipients will distribute the cards to fellow soldiers.

The cards will be especially meaningful to soldiers who don't usually receive mail, said Spc. Glenn Bolland, who has been working as a medic with the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Division in Iraq since last March. He helped box the cards Thursday night with his parents, Patty and Fred Bolland of Boonsboro, after returning home Nov. 10 for an unexpected two-week leave.

"It's a great thing for the soldiers," said Spc. Bolland, 23. "Every little letter they get makes their day better."

Local businesses also donated about $700 for postage, which tallied a little more than $200, Jones said. Leftover funds will be used for other projects to benefit soldiers, she said.

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