Ionia community helping Blue Star Mothers send holiday care packages to troops

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IONIA, Mich. --It’s tough for service men and women to be away from home, especially during the holidays, but a group of military moms are working with people in Ionia to make the holidays a little sweeter for our troops.

From letters written by Ionia high school students to Halloween candy kids saved for our troops, the community is coming together to help let troops know they care.

The Blue Star Mothers Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm County Chapter are helping send a piece of home to men and women serving overseas.

"Everybody knows it's tough to be away from your loved ones during the holiday it's even tougher when they're an area when you don't know whether or not if they're going to be safe. So it's a little cathartic to do this," says Brenda Gibson, president of the local Blue Star Mothers chapter.

Treasures for Troops is an effort to collect goods to fill up care packages. The Blue Star Mothers put the packages together and ship them to US military personnel deployed overseas.

"When you pack those boxes you look at that as 'This is going to my child' or 'This is going to [my] child's friend.' So there's a lot of thought that goes into those boxes," Gibson says.

And what goes into those boxes comes from the community.

"It's important to us that we show support and respect for those serving in our armed forces," says Ionia High School Principal Ben Gurk.

Gurk put out the Treasures for Troops box Monday morning and within hours it was filled with 127 handwritten letters to military personnel from the students.

One of them was from junior Austin Speckin.

"I have family members and I have so much respect for the brave, the people across the seas who do stuff that I hopefully get a chance to do and it's because of them that we can do so many things in this country," says Speckin.

Gibson says she hopes the packages will let each troop on the receiving end know that the people back at home care for them.

"We want them all to come home, we want them all to be safe, we want them all to be safe. Not every service personnel has that support at home and that's where we're stepping in to make sure that they feel loved over the holiday," says Gibson.

If you want to make a donation there are five drop-off locations that will be open until Nov. 16. After that, Gibson will be shipping the care packages.

Residents can drop off items at WION Radio in Ionia, 1150 Haynor Rd.; WGLM radio in Greenville, 9181 SW Greenville Rd.; the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, 113 Riverwalk Plaza; Lowell High School, 11700 Vergennes St. SE; and Ionia High School, 250 E. Tuttle Rd.

You can find a list of items that are needed by clicking here. 

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