Boy, 8, gathers gifts for service members

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FARMINGTON – Baseball, fishing and other summer pleasures for an 8-year-old have been set aside while Matthew Greenman knocks on doors seeking gifts for our soldiers in Iraq.

After watching recent news reports from Iraq, Greenman got the idea that the military should have a piece of home but many service members have no family to send them anything, he said Monday.

So he took it upon himself to try to do something about it without the help of an organized group. With his mother, Raenna, quietly standing behind him, he explains his mission to homeowners when they answer their door. A younger brother, Donavan, and stepfather, Richard Benson, wait patiently for him at the end of the driveways.

“He wanted to do this himself,” Raenna Greenman said, “so, we told him we would stand behind him.”

Greenman set a goal to try to fill 100-200 boxes with a variety of items by Sept. 1. In the last week, the family has walked the High, Maple and Granite Height areas evenings in the heat and rain collecting not cash donations and bottles to return for cash as well as toiletry items, wash cloths and more.

Greenman, who will enter third grade this fall, plans to do the shopping to fill the boxes with goodies, envelopes, stamps, magazines and small toys for the soldiers to pass out to the children in Iraq, he said.

Like many other families, Greenman has an uncle serving in the Army. His five years in the service have been spent in Japan and the Philippines, Raenna said, but her younger brother is expected to be assigned to Iraq soon.

“However people feel about the war,” Benson said, “we’re there and we’re trying to teach Matthew that they are there doing their job and we need to support them.”

In just the small area they’ve covered by foot, Greenman said he has met a lot of nice and caring people.

“I’m surprised but a lot of people we’ve met,” Raenna said, “have family members in the services and have lost people in wars.”

Greenman likes to fish, read, and really likes school, especially music, he said. With a friendly smile and polite manner, he proudly displayed the items he has collected saying that he hopes to have at least half his goal by the first of September.

Then, he wants to provide some Thanksgiving or Christmas boxes, his mother added.

Finding out how and where to send the boxes has been the hardest part, she said. Without a group organizing the project, the Greenmans are still working out the details. People have given them phone numbers to try to find addresses and “we plan to visit the local Army reserve office,” Raenna Greenman said. She’s also looking for boxes and the large labels for addressing the boxes, she said.

Anyone who would like to help Greenman may contact him at 860-2501. His mailing address is 120 Moore Ave., Lot 7, Farmington, ME 04938.

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