SIKESTON -- Residents wanting to make Christmas for area soldiers a little more merry need to send their packages as soon as possible, officials say.
"Mid-November is cutting it close for priority packages to troops," said James Day of the U.S. Postal Service in Sikeston. "Bringing in the packages as early as possible is your best bet." Packages cannot weigh more than 70 pounds or be longer than 108 inches, Day said.
Packages cannot contain any liquids, aerosols -- or anything potentially hazardous or that perishes easy, Day said. Snacks, toiletries and clothing are what most people have sent to the troops, he said.
If packages are sent priority as opposed to parcel-post, the packages will move through the states a lot quicker, Day said. It takes about two to three days to move through the states with priority mail as opposed to parcel-post's 10 days through the states; however priority also costs about $10 more than parcel-post.
Julia Kirk of Sikeston knows all too well about sending packages overseas. Her son, Logan, is stationed in Afghanistan. Kirk and the Semo Military Support Group recently sent Kirk's son and other troops Halloween candy and decorations.
"He (Logan) said they put it in a bowl in the middle of the barracks so anyone could get to it," Kirk noted. "Of course, we can't send chocolate to them so they're all having a chocolate attack."
The Semo Military Support Group has received a lot of letters back from soldiers -- especially from soldiers the group didn't know, Kirk said. Many of them don't ever get any mail so they really appreciate it, she said.
It was because of reasons like this that Carol Messmer of Benton, a Blue Star Mother and member of the Semo Military Support Group, decided to create "Adopt A Soldier/Christmas for a Soldier."
Messmer is collecting items to send to area military personnel and their troops for Christmas. She's even made gigantic "Santa" sacks to ship the presents in, she said.
"We've been working with several area businesses and individuals. Some have donated Christmas trees, tree skirts and ornaments to send over to the troops," Messmer said.
Messmer has kept in touch with a soldier who is back in the United States on medical leave. He said receiving packages from people back home is the most important thing there is, she recalled. The soldier said to know that people care keeps the morale up and the things being sent are so appreciated, Messmer said.
"Even though the war was declared 'over,' the battle still goes on every day. We continue to take baths and eat three meals a day. I got a letter from one of the soldiers, and he said it's been 56 days and they're still taking cold showers," Messmer pointed out.
Every body thinks the war is over, but it seems like it's getting worse, Kirk said. And they'll be sending new soldiers over there, too, she said.
Suggested items to be donated include facial wash disposable, full and travel size; Gatorade/Powerade powder; hand sanitizers; razors/non aerosol shaving cream; shampoo/conditioner combination; Q-tips; body wash; mouthwash; toothbrushes/toothpaste; deodorant; liquid tears; body lotions; dental floss; pens/paper/envelopes; feminine products; Neosporin; small notebooks; journals; Heat Max disposable hand warmers; foot care products; cotton balls; lock bags, assorted sizes; breath mints; baby powder; light green bandanas; band aids; toilet paper, regular/travel sizes; disinfectant wipes; AA batteries; Skin So Soft Lip Balm (Carmex, MaryKay with sunscreen); emery boards; sweat suits, gray/tan, sizes medium to extra, extra large with pockets; board games, puzzle books; snacks, crackers, gum, beef jerky, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, candies, cookies, peanuts, etc.
"Everything on the list is extremely important," Messmer noted "From facial wipes and sanitizers to Gatorade, Q-tips, puzzle books, board games and snacks -- they could use it all."
Gifts may or may not be wrapped, and donors are encouraged to include a letter along with a self-addressed return envelope with their items, Messmer said.
To help with purchasing Christmas items and paying for postage, the Semo Military Support Group is also conducting a raffle. Tickets cost $1 each or six for $5 and can be purchased at Raburn Glass and other various locations or by contacting Kirk or Messmer. Prizes include a flag throw, an American flag, a "Welcome" crocheted piece and a camo pack.
Each business, group or person that sells $100 in tickets will be eligible for a preliminary drawing for a separate prize from their ticket holders on Nov. 10 before the major drawing Nov. 11.
Items for soldiers may be dropped off at Raburn Evans Glass in Sikeston or the Standard Democrat no later than Nov. 12. For more information, call Messmer at 573-545-3257, Kirk at 573-471-8852 or Suzann Romines at 573-472-6288.