The items, things like baby wipes and beef jerky, will be sent to soldiers from the Rumford area.

MEXICO – Judy Powell and her students know they are out there. But finding them is difficult.

Powell, the cooperative education teacher at Region 9, and the certified nurses’ aide teacher, Sally Arsenault, have launched a project to get much-needed and appreciated items to the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Powell hooked up with Operation Shoebox, a nonprofit group that is sending such things as baby wipes, jelly beans, dental floss and beef jerky overseas, she thought she’d have her students send a big box of items to be distributed. But it seems that many other people across the country are thinking the same thing, and Operation Shoebox has been overwhelmed with items.

So she’s trying to locate the names and addresses of servicemen and women with families in the Rumford area. Each will get a shoebox crammed full of useful items.

About 15 students from Powell’s and Arsenault’s classes are helping in the effort by filling boxes and trying to locate items, which can be sent to the armed forces.

Stacy Henderson, a cooperative education student, said she thought it was possible that they may hold a fund-raiser to help pay for shipping and distributing the items, as well.

Scores of items have already been gathered. And Powell said the collection of items, money for shipping, and names and addresses of soldiers will continue for about two weeks. Then the packing will begin. If too few local troops are located to benefit from the 15 or so boxes expected to be filled, then Powell said the two classes may adopt a unit on duty in the Iraq/Kuwait area.

“It’s our way of giving back to people who are making a sacrifice for us,” said Powell, the daughter of a World War II veteran.

Henderson thinks the idea is a good one, too.

“There’s a lot of stuff they could use. It’s a way to support the troops,” she said.

Other items needed for the boxes include Q-tips, lip balm, waterless hand cleaner, playing cards, sunscreen and dozens more. Anyone who wants to donate items or money to ship the boxes, or who has the names and addresses of local servicepeople should contact Powell at Region 9 at 364-3764.


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