The Ottumwa Courier

833rd Engineer Company

April 6, 2008

VFW prepares packages for soldiers serving in the 833rd

Marks the second time VFW has sent packages to soldiers

OTTUMWA — Walter B. Schafer Post No. 775 resembled nothing on Saturday so much as a home whose family was in the midst of moving.

Boxes were everywhere. Piles of supplies scattered across a half-dozen tables. Deodorant, candy, microwave popcorn, paperback books, batteries, sunscreen, razors, pencils, paper, pens and silly string, all bound for soldiers in the 833rd Engineer Company in Iraq.

Silly string?

Kathy Harding had the explanation. Silly string is light and projects across a considerable distance. And it can hang onto anything. That makes it a good tool for finding traps.

“What they do is they squirt that when they go into a building to see if there are any wires,” she said.

So silly string went into the boxes as well. This is the second time the Ottumwa VFW has sent packages to the soldiers in one form or another. The first shipment went out courtesy of the girls’ junior unit. Members of the auxiliary put this one together with help from just about everyone. President Becky Thompson said the auxiliary wanted to help, and they pulled together donations from the public, the VFW post and some area companies.

“We just went from there,” Thompson said.

Saturday’s packing came just a day after family members whose soldiers are with the 833rd spoke at Indian Hills Community College during the annual diversity conference. One of their main points was how crucial community support is for both the soldiers and the families they leave in Iowa.

The timing was a coincidence, but it underscored why the VFW auxiliary was so intent on sending the packages. They know it makes a difference to the soldiers who receive them.

Security concerns have changed things, though. There was a time when sending packages was as simple as addressing it to “Any Soldier.” Now, if you don’t have a name, the package isn’t going to get through.

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