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Operation CNMI Homefront Support Launches Third Care Package Drive (September 30, 2010)

Operation CNMI Homefront Support will be launching its third consecutive year of collecting donations to create care packages to send to U.S. military personnel from the CNMI.

Geri Willis of the Northern Marianas College has partnered with Mark Birmingham from Marianas Cable Vision, Nola Hix from IT&E, and John Hirsh from the American Red Cross to organize this year’s care package drive.

“It doesn’t matter whether these soldiers are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan, or the United States mainland, they are still going to be away from home during the holidays, and we wanted to let them know how much we appreciate their sacrifices,” said Willis.

According to Willis, the organization has sent out over 500 care packages to deployed soldiers during the past two years. These care packages contained a variety of items: issues of Beach Road magazine, the Saipan Tribune and Marianas Variety, coconut chips from Noriyasu Horiguchi, cookies from both Herman’s Bakery and Joeten Hafa Adai Bakery, stamped holiday letters and handmade cards from the Friday Morning Stampers, dental care products from the SDA Clinic, and hand knitted caps from a local knitting club.

Other donations included in the care packages were letters and drawings from children, and funding for postage from the Bank of Saipan. Additional donations were made by the Saipan Rotary Club, Power 99, and KZMI, the CNMI Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and from members of both the Senate and the House.

“The feedback we’ve received from the soldiers was that they were surprised and very appreciative of the packages sent by the community,” said Willis. “Receiving items from home can help alleviate some of the stress of deployment, and instill in the minds of the soldiers that we’re thinking of them.”

“The group’s biggest challenge has been in obtaining names and addresses of local soldiers serving in the military,” adds Willis. “We would appreciate receiving names and addresses of all of these military personnel.”

To provide names and addresses of deployed military personnel from the CNMI, contact Geri Willis by texting or calling 788-4663 (HOME) or emailing [email protected] to provide information.

To donate items for the care packages, local stores Joeten Superstore, Triple J Super Fresh Market, and Fleming’s Store (Tinian) will have banners displayed at each location that list items pre-selected by the soldiers, such as Spam, Three Diamond tuna, Ichiban soba, BinBin crackers, dried mango, rice crackers, and other local favorites. These items will also have labels on them to indicate that they are a selected item. Donation boxes will be available at each location.

Items purchased at other stores may also be donated provided that the items are not liquid, or glass. To arrange for pick-up of items, contact Geri Willis by texting or calling 788-4663 (HOME) or emailing [email protected].

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