GILBERT — ‘Tis soon the season of giving, and people with the spirit of generosity are invited to take part in the Gilbert VFW Auxiliary’s annual Christmas gifts for the troops project. The auxiliary is seeking names and addresses of servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas or stationed stateside. And for people who wish to donate to the project, the auxiliary offers tips on what to give and what not to give.
The auxiliary will be packing boxes on Sunday, Nov. 22, at the George and Mark Klobuchar VFW 4456 post home. Gift items and cards and letters to send, as well as monetary donations to be used for postage, can be taken to the VFW by Saturday, Nov. 21. Names and addresses can be left at the VFW after 2 p.m. weekdays and noon on weekends. They can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or called to Hart at 218-750-0610.
Last year 39 gift boxes were shipped, costing $697.
The auxiliary has been sending packages to the troops for about 15 years, VFW 4456 Auxiliary President Marlaina Hart told the Mesabi Tribune. She related a personal story about the gift project. Her granddaughter, a student at Eveleth-Gilbert, had made items for the gift boxes. “When she graduated high school, she entered the Army Reserve and was in her training when she received a package from the Gilbert VFW Auxiliary. She was just so excited to get a package like some of the ones she had worked on so many years ago.” Her husband will be deployed this year and if the auxiliary has an address for him, he will receive a package this year. “Our son was deployed a few years ago and received packages from the States. They were so very much appreciated. So let’s keep this tradition strong and going for the foreseeable future.” She thanked people in advance for “all donations to our cause.”
Auxiliary member Sally Hirsch and fellow members started the project 15 years ago when her son Scott Hirsch was serving with the Marines in the war in Iraq.
Here are items not to give, according to the website Give2TheTroops. Books or music CDs (iTunes and Amazon.com are commonly used now), home-baked goods, glass containers, aerosol cans and sprays, food items with expired dates, canned food, candles, lighters, matches, hotel or airline samples of shampoo, lotion, etc., VHS and cassette tapes.
Here is a list of recommended donations:
FOOD: Protein powder and protein bars (top request), K-Cups coffee and tea for Keurig machines (top request), green tea, powder drink mix (Gatorade, Kool-Aid, Crystal Light), chicken and tuna salad in foil pouches or ready-to-eat kits (no cans), beef jerky and Slim Jims, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds candy, pretzels, snack crackers, small packs of cookies, granola bars, Cliff bars, dried fruit snacks, peanuts and mixed nuts, microwave food, Girl Scout cookies, Rice Krispie treats (store-bought), Little Debbie and Hostess cakes, cereal in individual boxes, condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
TOILETRIES: Travel-size shampoo and conditioner (no large bottles), shaving cream in tubes, lip balm, travel lotion, sunblock SPF 45, bug spray, DEET, Skin-So-Soft, loofah sponges, moleskin and shoe insoles (gel is best), Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, aspirin packets, eye drops, nasal spray, vitamins.
ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORTS: iTunes gift cards and Amazon.com gift cards (top request), gift cards to send home to loved ones (for restaurants, supermarkets), air pumps and needles for sports balls (top request), DVD movies (new or used – recent releases only), Xbox Games, PSP, PS2 and PS3 Games (new or used), computer flash drives and thumb drives, portable headphones, electronic handheld games, small photographs for tents and walls, double-sided tape, small crafts kits, scrap-booking items, frisbees, hacky sacks, dominos, poker chips and mats, dice, board games, dart boards, nerf footballs.
OTHER: Pillow cases, twin sheets, towels and washcloths (green & tan), laundry supplies in packs, small flashlights, small toys and school supplies , knick-knacks, USA flags, Minnesota flags, bandanas, baseball hats, football jerseys, tools such as staple guns, paint brushes, adhesive wall hooks, wall screws, small tool kits, rubber gloves, sponges, unused rags, dust masks, fly swatters, fly paper, mosquito netting, alarm clocks, green and tan undershirts, socks in black, olive green, tan and white cotton or wool, water bottles, travel mugs and Thermoses, religious booklets, small Bibles, inspirational readings.
CARDS AND LETTERS: Receiving mail is important to those who have been deployed. Note: Troops do not need stamps as they’re in war zones and can send mail home to their loved ones at no charge.
In past years the students at the middle school in Gilbert have traditionally filled Christmas stockings with gifts for the troops.The auxiliary members often include notes in the packages.