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Residents gather for ninth year to send holiday cheer to U.S. military members

November 27, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Julie Boyer sorts cards for soldiers Sunday at Camp Manidokan.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Some U.S. military members stationed in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait won’t be home for the holidays, but a local group of dedicated people is making sure they are not forgotten.

For the ninth year, about 50 people gathered Sunday at Camp Manidokan along Harpers Ferry Road south of Sharpsburg to put together 570 boxes containing Christmas cards, personal hygiene items and snacks that will be sent to U.S. military members serving abroad.

The group started sending the packages after learning that some military members did not receive any mail.

Like an assembly line, volunteers in a building at Camp Manidokan moved methodically past cardboard boxes neatly lined up on the floor and dropped thousands of Christmas cards in them Sunday afternoon.

The group worked four hours, adding personal hygiene items like toothpaste and deodorant to the shipment, as well as snacks and goodies like Christmas candy, granola bars and crackers.

The 570 boxes were to be loaded onto a trailer and taken to the Keedysville post office, where they will be sent to military members. It will take five to seven days for the boxes to reach the Middle East and longer to reach the other areas, said Lynn Jones, founder of the effort.

“We don’t want them to feel forgotten (and to emphasize) that we think about them all the time,” Jones said.

The cards and other items being sent to military members are donated and come from school groups, churches and civic organizations, Jones said. About 40,000 cards were donated by Food Lion, Jones said.

“We are blessed, truly blessed. Look at all this stuff,” Jones said, looking at the boxes of items around her.

More than 110,000 cards were to be shipped to military members. Snacks like jars of peanuts were stacked in the room ready to be packed.

The boxes will be shipped to 95 military units in Africa, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, Jones said. Each unit will receive two boxes of cards, two boxes of personal hygiene items and two boxes of snacks, Jones said.

Jones’ group, known as the South Washington County Military Support Group, will send items to any military member deployed in those areas. Friends and family members of service members send to Jones addresses where items can be mailed, Jones said.

Word has spread about the effort as people hear about the program through the radio and newspapers, Jones said.

“I served in Vietnam and they never had anything like this,” Sharpsburg resident Mike Fasulo said as he took a break from packing items Sunday.

Julie Boyer of Williamsport said she has been helping with the effort for about eight years.

“It makes you feel good,” said Boyer’s husband, Scott, who was also working on Sunday’s shipment of supplies.

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