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Treats, not Troops are What's Needed in Iraq

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Updated September 22, 2003

Boxes of treats and books, not more troops, is what some are saying soldiers deployed to Iraq need.

A Reserve officer currently serving in Iraq is trying to open a library in his area of operations to keep soldiers entertained. Operation Freedoms Library has been dubbed the name of the mission, said Maj. Richard Miller, a native from Minneapolis serving with the19th Corps Materiel Management Center serving with the 19th Support Center in Wiesbaden, Germany.

A friend of Miller’s, Lainie Guthrie, came up with the name, and has been instrumental in recruiting friends and coworkers from Hewlett-Packard, he added.

“There are only so many things soldiers can do here, and they eventually will have seen every movie that has been sent and played spades more than enough times,” Miller wrote in a mass e-mail that he sent out to friends and family members.

Miller started filling the library’s imaginary shelves with magazines left on airplanes, and used books donated by family and friends. Likewise, the zealous reservist got his civilian employer, Toro Company, involved and is expecting 23 boxes of books and magazines that were collected at a book drive.

“I have friends and organizations from across the U.S. contributing,” Miller said. ”I did have a publishing company offer 70,000 books from their Tennessee warehouse. They were concerned about the cost of mailing them here so I suggested either a donation to the Red Cross … or take them to Fort Campbell, (Ky.), and donate them to deployed soldiers in the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division.”

Romance novels, westerns, technology magazines and a gamut of other types of reading material are needed to round out the library. However, new is not a requirement.

“We have been out here so long that old stuff is new to us,” Miller said. “It would give the troops that are pulling guard duty and traffic control point duty something to do on their off hours.”

Individuals who want to donate reading material to Operation Freedoms Library can e-mail Miller at richard.alan.miller1@us.army.mil.

Just to see boxes gets soldiers excited, Miller said. And that excitement was the inspiration behind Treats for Troops Inc., according to the president and founder.

Deborah Crane, the spouse of a retired soldier and the mother of an airman, founded the company to make sure soldiers could still get packages from unknown Americans.

Once “Any servicemember” mail was suspended because of terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare (see related story), soldiers risked not getting the morale booster that those packages provide, states Crane on her Web site, www.treatsfortroops.com.

“Our mission is simple, we want to put at least one package in the hands of every American active-duty military anywhere in the world,” said Crane.

Individuals can foster a service member without personally knowing anyone in the service. When soldiers register with the company to receive care packages, Treats For Troops is committed to keeping the soldiers’ contact information completely confidential. Sponsors will know the soldier they are fostering is from Illinois and is called Sam, but won’t be given any contact information, the Web site states. TFT is the liaison between soldiers who’d like to be sponsored and Americans who want to show their support for the members of the armed forces.

Once soldiers receive their packages they are able to say “thank you” by logging onto the TFT site. Their messages are then forwarded through a secure server. The sponsor and soldier are not able to contact each other directly.

“Thanks so much for the package, said Stephen in a written Thank you to his sponsor Lawrence from New Jersey. “It is impossible for me to express in words the feelings one gets when he hears his name called out for mail call … especially for a package. Thank you for your patriotism, your support and gift. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

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