Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Groups Using MLK Day to Help Country's Troops

Writing letters, collecting donations for Day of Service

While many local employees and school children will be enjoying a day off Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one group hopes those same people will take a little time to give back to the men and women of the United States military.
Iowa City Elder Services’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Program members will be partnering with the Iowa Troop Pantry from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., to collect gift items and handwritten letters for deployed military members.
“Anybody can drop in and write a letter to a soldier,” Elder Services RSVP Director Joan Cook said. “The letters are very heartwarming.”
Monday will mark the third year for the Martin Luther King Day of Service, and fellow organizer and member of Organizing for America Rosanne Cook said the event has been well received since it started.
“We just discovered that there was a lot of enthusiasm for this event. We had a lot of volunteers come in and write letters of gratitude,” she said.
In addition to handwritten letters and drawings by children, RSVP also partners with the Iowa Troop Pantry to collect gift donations for military personnel.
Top items being sought include food products such as beef jerky, candy, mixed nuts or cans of ravioli and soup, toiletries including toothpaste, foot powder and body wash, or clothing such as socks and long underwear.
Maria Tyson, Iowa Troop Pantry president and managing director, said the items being requested will fill the void in more personal needs or creature comforts not typically supplied by the military.
“They’re not supplied to the military personnel that are over there so we’re trying to send some items that alleviate some of the stresses of not having what you need,” Tyson said.
While the donated items offer a helping hand to deployed troops, the letters and drawings offer an equally valuable asset, Tyson said.
“They hang them up on their walls and in their vehicles. The letters are big morale boosters,” Tyson said.

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