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Community invited to help soldiers, vets
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The Great Bend American Legion Auxiliary is asking people to adopt a Fort Dodge soldier for Christmas. Meanwhile, the local Military Moms group is requesting donations for care packages that will be sent overseas to active military personnel.
The Auxiliary is collecting comfort items, T-shirt, socks and underwear, as well as items on the wish lists of residents at the home for veterans. The items wished for are on an angel tree at the American Legion Argonne Post, 1011 Kansas Ave., which is also were items can be dropped off until Monday, Dec. 3 for delivery on Dec. 8. The American Legion is open from 4-10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It is also open from 5-10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, which are bingo nights.
Auxiliary member Brenda Krueger said the post has other programs to support retired veterans at the soldiers’ home. “This is where the community comes together to help us buy items on their wish list.”
For more information call the American Legion, 620-793-5912, or Krueger, 620-793-3796.
The Great Bend Military Moms are planning the next shipment of care packages for soldiers, said Leslie (Halbower) Barrett. “If you know of someone who is currently serving in the Iraq or Afghanistan areas, please get their military address to me as soon as possible. We will add them to the list and send them boxes loaded with snacks, candy, drink mixes, beef jerky, nuts, books, CDs, DVDs, games, toys, batteries, personal care items along with lots of love and support from back home.”
The group sends extra boxes to the chaplains of units, to distribute to soldiers who don’t receive care packages.
To send an address or to make a donation, contact Barrett by calling 620-792-2838, or mail donations to American Legion Gift Fund/Great Bend Military Moms, P.O. Box 432, Great Bend, KS 67530.
Fort Dodge is located approximately 5 miles east of Dodge City. The veterans look forward to visits from Legion members, including the auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Riders. Stan Jantz from Hoisington plays the role of Santa Claus and they all get together for refreshments and to open presents.
Krueger said many of the soldiers enjoy hearing the motorcycles arrive. “One vet was so touched by what we had done, he wanted to give us something.” The die cast motorcycle that was once his now holds a place of honor on the American Legion Riders wall at the post.
She recalled another veteran, an elderly woman, who received the doll that was on her wish list. “She started crying and she held that baby doll,” Krueger said. “I think it was very therapeutic for her. It was a very touching moment.”  
Great Bend Military Moms has been sending care packages for nine years.
“We owe our entire ‘way of life’ to those who have fought for the cause of freedom throughout the history of this great country!” Barrett said.