Troop donation drive scheduled

Stef Gates has been keeping in contact with her friends fighting in the war in Iraq.

She sends them supplies as often as she can and gathers donated items from other firefighters in the department.

But one day, after hearing about how often the troops share what's sent to them with other soldiers around them, she challenged herself to do more.

"Things here have distracted many Americans from the fact that the troops are still waging tough battles over in the Middle East," Gates said. "While the economy may be hard on people here and battles for elected positions have started, it's nothing compared to what these people serving our country are dealing with."

Gates lined up some time at the Agnew Helpful Neighbors Hall to accept donations to send to the troops and is putting up fliers around town to garner support for the event.

"Even the littlest thing can help a soldier have a higher quality of life in an otherwise tough situation," Gates said. "Plus, whatever supplies I send to people I know, like Andrew, gets divvied up to a lot of people so it really only lasts for a few days."

A fellow firefighter and father of Andrew Heydon, Doug, is lending his support to the cause. He already sends a care package once or twice a week but knows there are more soldiers than there are care packages being sent overseas.

"Whenever I get to talk to Andrew I don't just hear how much he loves to get things from us but how much the other guys love it, too, because they don't always get things," Heydon said on July 31. "Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be 118 degrees matched with an incredibly low humidity. It's tough to just be there, much less be there in a wartime situation."

The pair is asking the community to drive by the donation station Aug. 10 with food, toiletries and other items that will make life better for the soldiers.

"Anything that will not perish in the heat and in transit to where these guys are stationed and things that will not get crushed are ideal for food donations," Gates said, indicating toiletries are essential too. "Plus, if you want to support and cannot go shopping, we always accept cash donations to help with shipping all of this stuff overseas. It's not cheap."

Gates said if people are unavailable on Aug. 10, there will be a donation box located at the District 3 Fire Station, 323 N. Fifth Ave., Sequim.

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