City of Suffolk employees prepare gift packages to soldiers overseas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Staff report

Suffolk city employees normally exchange gifts with one another during the holiday season. But this year, with American soldiers fighting to establish democracy in Iraq, they decided to forego gifts to one another and try to make Christmas merrier for American GI’s.

Volunteers from various city departments meton Monday in the City Council Chamber to assemble the &uot;Suffolk Cares Holiday Packages.&uot;

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&uot;We have had an excellent response from city employees, and it never ceases to amaze me what wonderful people we have working together in the true spirit of community partnership,&uot; says Diana L. Klink, Community Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

&uot;We filled over 50 boxes with donations from caring city employees to send to our deployed armed services to let them know how much they are appreciated and that their personal sacrifices haven’t gone unnoticed,&uot; said Klink.

A greeting card on behalf of all city employees will also be included in the packages sent to Iraq.

Students from Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary School – the city’s Partner in Education – have also created other cards and letters with holiday greetings from Suffolk to the troops.

Additionally, city employees have forwarded names of family members, friends and neighbors currently serving overseas in the military so that they could be included in the mailing list.

In addition to the cards and letters, the following items are included in the care packages:

-Candy, gum, mints, trail mix, etc.

-Cereal bars, granola bars, etc.

-Coffee, instant and regular, and filters

-Tea bags, instant cocoa mix

-Canned nuts

-Canned chips (like potato sticks, Pringles, Doritos, etc.)

-Snack cakes that are pre-wrapped without icing, which will melt

-Beef jerky, Slim Jims

-Powdered drinks, pre-sweetened Kool-Aid, Gatorade, etc.

-Basics that are easy to open, easy to eat – quality and healthy foods are best – again, nothing that will melt or spoil

-Disposable cameras

-Paper, pens, envelopes

-Lip balm, cough drops, small packs of Kleenex, eye drops (because of the sandstorms)

-Batteries – mostly AA size, but some AAA also

-New or used or recycled DVD movies

After spending as many as 12 hours a day in the field, military personnel in Iraq have no access to television or other forms of entertainment, and they enjoy watching movies in their barracks or on their laptop computers.

The message that city employees want to send to our military men and women is that they’re not forgotten and that Suffolk Cares, according to city spokesman Dennis Craff.