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Donated supplies given to veterans’ families

Volunteers cycle through tables non-perishable food toiletries other items while creating care packages as part Supplies for GIs event Sunday

Volunteers cycle through tables of non-perishable food, toiletries and other items while creating care packages as part of the the Supplies for GIs event Sunday, November 18, 2012, at the Porter County Municipal Airport in Valparaiso, Ind. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media

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Supplies for GIs is accepting donations for postage at any Centier Bank branch or by mail to Supplies for GIs, P.O. Box 65, Leroy IN 46355.

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Updated: December 20, 2012 6:13AM



VALPARAISO — John Herman did three tours of duty with the Army in Iraq, and remembers how good it felt to get a care package from home.

“They’re a real morale booster,” he said Sunday, as he helped box up similar packages in a hangar at the Porter County Municipal Airport for Supplies for GIs.

The letters from school children, the toiletries and other goods are very much appreciated, as is the sentiment behind them, particularly by soldiers without a family at home, said Herman, of Valparaiso. That’s why he helps put the packages together.

“It’s my opportunity to give back, and a way to deal with what I saw,” he said.

Between 75 and 100 volunteers helped pack the boxes with goods collected by area schools. This was the eighth year for the effort, spearheaded by Cherie Cope of Leroy after her son-in-law, a Marine stationed in Iraq, said some of his fellow soldiers never received packages from home.

That first year, packages went out to nine soldiers. About 160 members of the military received boxes last year, and Cope said about 50 will receive them this year. All of the boxes go to military personnel from Lake or Porter counties.

“I just hope next year we won’t have to have any soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan or in harm’s way, but if they are going to be there, they are going to be blessed” with a care package, Cope said.

Volunteers included Jackie Webster and her family, who were on their way to a movie and had a couple of hours to kill.

“I think it’s kind of a nice thing to do to look at all of these things and put yourself in their boots, so to speak, and think of what they may want in the way of comforts from home,” the Valparaiso woman said.

Helping pack the boxes was an emotional effort for Linda Szalmasagi. The Crown Point woman has helped with the task for the past several years. Her parents — her father was a veteran of World War II — used to join her, but they have both since passed away.

“It’s sort of like being with them — in spirit, anyway,” she said.



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