Holiday card drive sends Christmas greetings overseas from Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
For 10 years, the Southern Washington County Military Support Group has collected gifts to make Christmas brighter for deployed American soldiers. Volunteers loading a truck in Greencastle included, from left, front row: Lynn Jones, Tori Anderson, David Rawley, Melissa Price. Back row: John Ames and Dan Shifflet.

The public came through at the last minute, and once again bags of snacks, toiletries, small gifts and boxes of handwritten cards were loaded onto a truck in Greencastle, bound for soldiers overseas by Christmas.

Tori Anderson, radio personality at WAYZ, strongly urged listeners to bring in donations. The station, along with Bob Rocks of VerStandig Broadcasting on John Wayne Drive, promoted the annual Holiday Card Drive. The bags trickled in. Anderson was worried. The October and November mission proved successful, with people dropping off supplies just ahead of the Nov. 20 deadline. A room was filled to the walls with treats for military personnel who wouldn't be home for Christmas.

Lynn Jones, organizer for the event, explained the delay on donations.

"It happens every election year," she said. "I don't know why. People wait until it's over."

She had gathered names of people in Afghanistan, Korea, Kuwait and Kenya, as well as new locations in Saudi Arabia and Southeast Asia. She said each person would get nine boxes, three each with hygiene items, non-perishable food and about 1,000 cards. The soldiers would distribute the goodies to their units.

Jones collected donations from several sites, and coordinated the sorting and mailing. She estimated 600 boxes would be shipped. Through the years, many people had benefited from the support of area citizens.

"You really never know who you are touching," she said.