Luling VFW ladies launch holiday ‘operations’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HAMMOND, La. — With more than 300 Louisiana National Guard Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment set to spend the holidays overseas, volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3750 Ladies Auxiliary of Luling, La., launched their community service projects, Operation Christmas Love and Operation Phone Home, recently. Their mission is to help bring a little cheer to the Troops who are serving in Iraq this holiday season.

“I’m glad to send packages to my daddy and his unit,” said 7-year-old Emma, daughter of deployed Soldier, Staff Sgt. Mitchell D. France of Boutte, La., as she stamped flags, hearts and stars on bags.

The care package items collected by volunteers include knitted hats, bookmarks, cards, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, shaving cream, dental floss, games, popcorn, beef jerky, chips, candy, stationary, phone cards, sunflower seeds and batteries.

Hats and bookmarks were hand-made by Sandie S. Petit of Amite, La., and Celeste C. Robert of Luling, La., volunteers who go by the name of “Library Stitchers.” Each card contained a special hand-written letter by the students at Boutte Christian Academy in Boutte, La.

“I am lucky to be able to support our troops,” said volunteer stitcher Celeste C. Robert of Luling, La. “I donate a lot of my knitted scarves and hats to veteran’s homes and Soldiers wounded in combat.”

“This is the first time I’ve been able to help, and I’m so excited!” said West St. John Baptist Church volunteer, Mary L. Matis of Luling, La.

Packages are scheduled to ship before Thanksgiving in order to arrive in Iraq in time for Christmas.