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V.I. Soldiers to Get Taste of Home for Thanksgiving

Nov. 1, 2007 — One hundred members of the V.I. National Guard 651st GS Maintenance Company will receive care packages filled with some of their favorite foods from home this Thanksgiving.
The Family Readiness Group is filling the packages with treats from home hoping it will make the holiday a little brighter for the soldiers.
"We're sending drinks and traditional holiday treats from home that they miss," said group leader Glenda Richards. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Calvin Richards is also in the VING.
Families of the soldiers in the group will be baking traditional black cake, fruitcake, rum cake, coconut tarts, drops and cookies. They will be mailing home-canned, locally grown gooseberry and tamarind stew.
"These items being sent have a long shelf life and will still be fresh in the two weeks estimated time it will take for the boxes to get to Iraq," Richards said.
The soldiers will be receiving Brow sodas and Vita Malt that they can't get in Iraq. Customs forms will be filled out with the contents of the boxes then sent via the U.S. Post Office priority mail.
The boxes will be packed Sunday at the Lionel Jackson Armory in Estate Bethlehem from 1 p.m. until they are finished. Anyone wanting to help with the packing is welcome to stop in at the armory.
Letters have been sent to local shipping companies for assistance with donations of shipping and packing materials, but they haven't received any replies. Anyone interested in making a donation may call Richards at 513-1104 or 778-7924.
The company left St. Croix in April for North Carolina. In July the soldiers were deployed to Anaconde, Iraq. The company includes 10 soldiers from St. Thomas.
The group meets the third Sunday every month. It is made up of parents of soldiers, husbands, wives and children of soldiers who meet to discuss family issues and other special needs that may arise while their loved one is deployed. It also serves as a support group with Richards and a core group of seven women. Those women are Mozelle Henley, Petrine Allen, Okeisha Herurtas, Evvetta Patrick, Pansy Morton, Caren Martinez and Jaslyn Scatliffe assistant group leader.
The women also have programs on things such as car maintenance. Last month members were given a crash course on oil changes, check hoses, fluids and even how to change tires.
In August they distributed school supplies to the children of the soldiers in the company and they are looking into the possibility of having a children’s Christmas party. For Valentine’s Day the are thinking of sending care packages.
"The morale of the company is good. And we are praying for the soldiers to return home safely by April," Richards said.

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