KENNEBUNKPORT (AP) – Schools and businesses in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are showing support for U.S. troops in the Middle East by helping to prepare what eventually will be a mile-long greeting card.

Among the dozens of students at Consolidated School who signed the card was fifth-grader Kate Campbell, who said soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom “are helping our country be safe.”

The greeting, to be rolled up and sent off to military headquarters, was the brainchild of Danie Connolly of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce.

Connolly, who used to run a restaurant, got the idea for “a mile of letters” from something her summer employees used to do when they went off to college in the fall. People in the restaurant would all sign their names to a cash-register tape as a memento of their summer experience.

She brought the idea to the school board, which approved its use in the schools in School Administrative District 71. It will also include signatures from people who shop in local stores.

“We want our soldiers to know we are behind them 100 percent,” Connolly said. “We appreciate everything they’re doing for our safety, everyday they are there, serving our country.”

Kathy Pence, principal of Consolidated School, sent notes home to parents explaining that their children would not be be obligated to sign the mile of letters. No parents objected.

Kevin Campbell, Kate’s father, said of the project, “It’s a great idea to show support. Husbands, wives, uncles are all over there so this is the least we can do.”

Some Mainers are showing support for American military personnel by mailing “care packages.”

“We’re sending everything from bug spray to sun block, socks, deodorant, beef jerky – things they might need that they don’t have access to,” said Tammy Rutledge of Naples.

AP-ES-04-17-03 0942EDT

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