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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Want to do something to help our troops?

Seems like every time you pick up the newspaper, turn on the radio or TV, read the news on the Web, you are confronted by a situation that makes you think, "I wish I could help." But we're often confounded about where to turn, what type of help is appropriate, and how to discern which charitable ventures are legitimate and which are questionable.

Well, if you've ever wanted to do something in appreciation for our American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, here's your opportunity - and it couldn't be easier. Des Plaines Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Number 2992 is collecting personal items and food to send to soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The DP VFW has been doing this for awhile and these care packages have been greatly appreciated by our men and women overseas. The troops are living in difficult conditions and often without the daily comforts we here at home take for granted. So now you have the chance to brighten someone's day in a meaningful way and it won't cost much or take much of your time.

What is needed? Personal items such as: lip balm, antacid tablets, gel inserts for boots, toothpaste and toothbrushes, cotton swabs, multi-vitamins, etc., along with food items like mints, Power Bars, pretzels, beef jerky, and instant oatmeal. Just click here to see a complete list you can print out and take along while you shop. Once you've purchased the items, all you have to do is bring them to the Des Plaines Public Library. The VFW has placed a bright blue barrel in our atrium, near the security desk. Leave your items there and the VFW will do the rest. If you prefer to make a monetary donation, the funds will be used for postage or to purchase other needed items. The cost to send one package, regardless of weight, is $8.95, so monetary gifts are also deeply appreciated. Send your financial donation to: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2992, P.O. Box 1702, Des Plaines, IL 60017.

Our local VFW can also do more for you: do you have a loved one, family member, friend or neighbor currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan? Let the VFW know and they'll send a care package directly to that soldier. To contact the DP VFW Post, call (847) 296-9878 or email
(The VFW asks that requests be limited to those troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rest assured that names and addresses of troops will not be shared or published, but only used to send these packages.) Items collected now can get to our soldiers near holiday time and what a nice surprise that will make.

If you, like me, have someone you know and love serving in Iraq at this difficult time, it's nice to also know that our local VFW (and others all across the US) is making this effort to bring a little bit of home to our soldiers. My good friend John Moran has been in Baghdad for over a year and was injured by a bomb attack very soon after arriving. I know that the lovingly prepared boxes of food and other items his mom Cathy sends over there are happy reminders of home, family and community support. So next time you're heading to the drug store or grocery store, take the Soldier's Wish List along with you, pick up some of the items and bring them to the library. It's a simple, but effective way of showing your care and concern for our troops.

The Des Plaines Public Library also collects, year-round, food items for the Self-Help Closet and Pantry of Des Plaines. Many of us donate to food pantries around holiday time, but might not think about it much during the rest of the year. If you visit the library every few weeks, consider always bringing one item of canned food with you each time you visit - wow, what a difference you could make! The collection box for the Self-Help Closet and Pantry is in the library atrium, right next to the blue barrel for the VFW's collection. We'll tell you more about the Self-Help Closet and Pantry in another blog, but don't forget our collection box and don't forget our troops!


  1. It's 11 days after this was posted, and I'm a little concerned, because ther is no blue barrel in the library atrium. The "event description" on the library web site said that was where we could take our donations. We're trying to figure out where to take them now.

  2. Thank you for your comments -- I had seen several blue barrels in our lobby as recently as yesterday and just assumed the one for the troops was still there! (By the way, just to clarify -- our post about helping the troops was from October 17, not November, so we've been collecting for quite some time.)

    I have a call out to our local VFW, inquiring about the barrel. Our Circulation staff says a representative of the VFW took the barrel out because it was filled to overflowing, which is wonderful news. It may be that they are starting to wind down the collection so that they can get the items to the troops in time for Christmas. Nevertheless, I did ask if they could return the barrel through the end of this week.

    In the meantime -- we have been told items can be dropped off at First Bank in Des Plaines, or, to make it even easier, bring them to the library and tell the front desk to get them to me, Karen McBride, and I will personally make sure every item gets to the VFW. Thank you again for your concern and we apologize for the inconvenience and confusion.


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