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Washington County volunteers get cards of hope ready for troops

December 03, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

KNOXVILLE - Between 350 and 500 boxes will be shipped today from the post office in Keedysville.

Those boxes, filled with Christmas cards and other items, will be delivered to U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cards were sorted and the packages were prepared Sunday by The South Washington County Military Support Group and other volunteers. The group has organized the shipment for five years, said the group's leader, Lynn Jones.

More than 60 people worked for several hours at Manidokan United Methodist Church Camp in Knoxville to prepare the boxes. About 118,300 cards will be sent - more than double the amount received last year.

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"We've been blessed," Jones said. "It gets bigger every year."

Ashley Bockstanz, 16, of Hagers-town, helped prepare the boxes and said the Christmas cards will show the troops that people are thinking about them, especially during the holidays.

"We're grateful they're doing what they're doing," she said.

Patty Bolland, of Boonsboro, said her son, Glenn Bolland, is a paratrooper serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. He's expected back in February, and Bolland says it's never easy to have her son away from home for the holidays.

"It's hard when family can't be together," she said. "But when they can't be with you and then they're in harm's way ... it's a twofold pain. It doesn't get any easier."

Bolland said her son and others serving with him have talked about some members of the military left without mail during the holidays. Each box sent by the military support group goes to one person who then can share the cards and other items with hundreds.

"It says that America is behind them," she said. "They are not there by themselves."

Brenda Deener, of Sandy Hook, and her husband have two 20-year-old sons serving in Iraq. Both are members of the Maryland National Guard and have been in Iraq since August.

Deener's eyes filled with tears, saying they would not be home for Christmas.

"One of them is kind of depressed," she said. "Anything like (the packages) would certainly help him. We're letting them know we care about them."

Barbara Franquist, the postmaster of Keedysville's post office, said additional workers will be on hand today for the large shipment.

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