EAGLE GROVE - Because Sunday school children at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Eagle Grove are learning to do for others, military personnel fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will be getting packages of cheer from Iowa.
"It's a new program with our Sunday school kids," said Jennifer Carlson, part of the Christian education committee. "In December, we gave to the food pantry in Eagle Grove, and January was military month."
Collections during Sunday school were earmarked for helping people in the service, but Carlson, of Goldfield, and Emma Bartley, thought more could be added if the congregation got involved.
"Every week in January, we set up a table in the back of the church so they couldn't help but trip over it, almost," she said. "We covered it with a patriotic quilt. I made a couple posters and put down the kind of things that were needed. We also took names of people in the military so Pam could send out care packages."
Pam is Pam Ridner of Kemna Auto Center in Algona. A five-year program at that dealership collects items to send to soldiers, packages them and mails them. It started five years ago with donations from Kemna, but has grown to include the Kemna donations, plus money from fundraisers held by the employees and help from Snap-on Tools, which has donated roll cabs as giveaways for donation tickets.
"This has huge area support," Ridner said. "We've gotten funds and supplies from Fort Dodge and Algona as their units deployed, from the community and chamber members."
To join the giving:
Items needed by soldiers overseas include food, entertainment and miscellaneous items.
- Beef jerky or beef sticks, single serve microwavable food, cereal bars, microwavable popcorn, snack items.
- CDs of any type, puzzle books, magazines, AA batteries, books, stress balls.
- Phone cards, aspirin and Tylenol, travel-size pillows (which can be made by cutting a regular pillow in half and sewing the ends shut), foot powder, lip balm, icy hot or muscle creams, multi-vitamins, lotion, deodorant, disposable razors.
- Items can be delivered to Kemna Auto Center in Algona or Fort Dodge.
- Cash donations can be sent Jennifer Carlson, in care of Evangelical Lutheran Church, 615 S.W. Second St., Eagle Grove, IA 50501.
With packaging and sending available, Carlson decided it only made sense to gather as much money and special items as possible, so she spread the word. She wrote letters, but hand-delivered them so the people could put a face with the project they were being asked to support.
"I pretty much beat the weeds to see who I could get to donate, from businesses to people," she said. "Whenever I handed out letters to people and businesses, saying who I was, what I was doing, what church I was with, they started dropping off donated items to church or to Kemna in Fort Dodge or Algona. It took about a month to do the project. I'm still trying to tie ends up, still trying to get other organizations involved. It's very addicting, especially when people say they'll help."
She credited several businesses with good donations to the cause. "Lewright's in Eagle Grove donated a big box of jerky, which is the No. 1 request of soldiers. And the Eagle Grove Pharmacy donated foot powder, multi-vitamins and disposable razors. Hy-Vee in Humboldt and Target and Wal-Mart in Fort Dodge gave generously, and I'm appreciative of that. Without that help, our project wouldn't have been as good as it was."
Carlson said not many people in the area have soldiers overseas, but she wanted the Sunday school children to understand that giving to strangers was a good thing.
"This is just something we thought was good for the kids to give to," she said. "It will help them remember we do have people serving over there."
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org