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Send troops Huggies but not Hershey's, military spouses say.

Byline: Scott Maben The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 3/28/03): Huggies is a popular brand of baby wipes, in additon to a brand of disposable diapers. A headline on A1 Thursday may have confused readers.

Small comforts make a big difference in the hot, windblown deserts of Iraq and Kuwait. Especially baby wipes and snack foods.

"Those are the two hot commodities," said Angie Anderson of Pleasant Hill, whose husband, a Marine Corps corporal, is in Iraq.

Many of the troops, laboring in the heat in full combat dress, have gone weeks without bathing.

"When I last spoke to my husband on March 10, he hadn't had a shower since Feb. 28," Anderson said.

So their families stuff boxes of baby wipes into the care packages they send, knowing it could take weeks for them to reach the Persian Gulf.

Equally popular is "pogie bait," what soldiers call candy, chips, jerky and other snacks. Those are welcome supplements to the military's unappetizing MREs - meals ready to eat.

"Most of them have lost a lot of weight," said Anderson, six months pregnant with the couple's second child, "so they're asking for snacks."

Tens of thousands of care packages are bound for U.S. troops, but only those with very specific and correct addresses get delivered.

Jenny Coleman, associate clerk at the main Eugene Post Office, said she's seeing about 20 packages a day addressed to an Army or Air Force Post Office or Fleet Post Office - APO or FPO. Many families bring them in before sealing them so she can look over the contents.

Mail addressed generally to units, companies or "any service member" no longer goes through, both for security reasons and to stem the flood of wartime mail. The Defense Department on Wednesday urged the general public not to send unsolicited mail, care packages or donations to service members deployed for the war.

"I've heard of people baking homemade cookies to send over to the troops in general. It's just not going to happen. It will be returned," said Stephanie Marshall of Corvallis, whose husband is in the Air Force ROTC program and who has sent packages to Marines, including a friend in the Persian Gulf.

Then there are the rules that senders must obey. Avoid chocolate (it'll melt) or anything that might break (it will). And pork products, alcohol and magazines depicting nude or partially nude women are not tolerated in Islamic countries.

Marshall, Anderson and others connected to local Marines with 6th Engineer Support Battalion have set up public drop sites in Lane County to collect appropriate care package items from residents who want to contribute.

They've also set up a bank account for donations to cover postage costs or buy additional items for the packages, which are shared among the 140 members of the Eugene-based unit.

"It's really appreciated," she said. "That's why I got into this. I wanted to organize it a little, let people know the rules and what they can do to help."

PACKAGE DONATIONS

For local Marine Reserves of the 6th Engineering Support Battalion:

Les Schwab Tire Centers: Any in Lane County will accept donated items

VFW Post 3965: Donations also accepted at the Springfield post, 5344 Main St.

US Bank: Accepting donations to "Support Your Local Troops" funds to pay for package items and shipping costs

WHAT TO SEND

Acceptable items: Baby wipes, hard candy and snacks, single-serving boxes of cereal, individual packets of condiments, chewing gum, batteries (any size), magazines, books, sunscreen, lip balm, eye drops, games and sports equipment, stamps, paper and envelopes.

Unacceptable items: Pork or pork products, alcohol, any printed materials showing nude or scantily clad women, lighters and matches, aerosols, flammable materials, microwavable or perishable food, homemade food, apricots.

Tip: Don't box up and seal items; they must be inspected first.

ALTERNATIVES

The Defense Department and USA Freedom Corps have launched "On The Home Front," a new resource for people wanting to support U.S. troops, their families and their communities.

Operation Dear Abby: Send e-mail messages to deployed troops of any service via anyservicemember.navy.mil

Defend America: Sign an online thank you card for troops at defendamerica.mil/nmam.html

Operation USA Care Package: Contribute to the purchase of a care package of items for the troops, such as sunscreen, disposable cameras, prepaid calling cards and toiletries, via www.usocares.org/home

Volunteer resources: Call (877) USA-CORPS, or go online at www.usafreedomcorps.gov
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 27, 2003
Words:740
Previous Article:APPETIZERS.
Next Article:Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.


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