Area residents chip in on packages to troops
Leavenworth woman’s ‘Packages from the Heartland’ finding plenty of support since January start
Staff Sgt. Jason Shroeder may be shipped to Iraq by December, but one thing he won't have to worry about is making friends.
"He'll know plenty of people," his mom, Barb Shroeder said, when his fellow soldiers find out he's her son.
That's because Barb Shroeder, a Leavenworth resident started and runs Packages from the Heartland, which is a program to collect and send boxes consisting mostly of hygiene and food products to soldiers serving in Iraq and Kuwait.
Chris Lann, her neighbor, helps Shroeder collect and ship the packages, which they typically mail in shipments of 13 to 25.
When Lann and Shroeder arrived recently at the Lansing Post Office with dozens of boxes, postal worker Kenny Howard wheeled the packages in with a large dolly. The shipment of more than 30 boxes was bigger than Packages from the Heartland's average shipment.
Far from complaining about the extra work - the moving of the packages and their processing - Howard joked constantly with Shroeder and Lann as he weighed the boxes and Shroeder stamped them.
"He's like our silent partner, but he's not silent," Lann quipped.
Shroeder ships the packages using a flat-rate box deal the Postal Service offers, which costs $7.70, regardless of the weight.
That can mean a hefty savings for Shroeder's efforts: on just one of the boxes she shipped that day, Shroeder said she saved $8.
Bettina Moncus, a Leavenworth resident serving in Kuwait as deputy commander of the 317th Quartermaster Battalion, wrote in an e-mail, "I wish I could tell you how much (the packages) have meant to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at Camp Buehring."
Moncus said calling cards, snacks, cards to mail home and personal hygiene products, especially tampons and pads, were the items she found most useful.
Shroeder, a floral manager at Food For Less, started Packages from the Heartland in January and guessed she had sent about 250 packages to soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait since then.
In June, she and Lann, a transportation engineer, staged a yard sale to raise money for the program, mostly for covering shipping costs. The sale was at Lann's home in Leavenworth and featured items donated by individuals and businesses. Money from cash donations and sales that day totaled $1,700, Shroeder said.
The next fund-raising effort for Packages From the Heartland is an ongoing raffle for a quilt made and donated by Leavenworth resident Brenda Brune.
The drawing will be held Oct. 1. On Aug. 27 and 28, Lann and Shroeder will be selling tickets in front of the Wal-Mart in Leavenworth.
Though they have received "very generous" help from residents and businesses, Lann said, "We'd love to have more help from the community."