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Gary's Care Packages in ninth year of remembering troops

By Sonny Long
Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

Gary Walters was the first Victorian killed in the war in Iraq. His family and friends began Gary's Care Packages nine years ago to send items to soldiers so they know they aren't forgotten.

Want to help?

Needed items for Gary's Care Packages include snack foods, journals, disposable cameras, personal hygiene items, books, compact discs, handheld games and Christmas decor.

Prepackaged meals, especially those with pop tops, are also needed. Monetary donations are also accepted to help pay for shipping. Checks should be made out to Gary's Care Packages.

If you would like a package to go to a specific soldier, send the shipping information to garyscarepackages@yahoo.com.

For more information, call 361-237-9040 or 361-935-7219.

Now in its ninth year, the mission of Gary's Care Packages remains the same: Give a little something to soldiers overseas so they know they haven not been forgotten.

And do so in memory of Gary Walters, the first Victorian killed in the war in Iraq in 2005 at age 32.

Heather Brown, Walters' sister and one of the organizers of the annual event, said she has seen the initial rush to help dwindle somewhat over the years.

"It breaks our heart a bit," she said. "The first year was such a hit - overwhelming support and response from Victoria. It does seem the majority (not all) have forgotten that troops are still over there getting killed."

Last year was almost the last year for the project after supply donation was almost none, and the monetary donation was just enough to cover shipping expenses.

Brown praised the addition of several local businesses who have been added as drop-off locations and Grace Lutheran Church for serving as the staging area.

Brown knows it is hard for the public to always remember those in harm's way.

"I feel that we, as Americans, are so overwhelmed with politics, taxes and just everyday struggles that we tend to forget that we actually have it so much better than these troops who can't be home to complain," she said. "My brother doesn't have the opportunity to say what he thinks of how the government is being run or be upset because the football teams aren't doing well."

Brown said if her brother were here, he would just want to spend time with family and friends.

She wants the community's help in continuing to honor him and others who are serving.

"We are just trying to reach as many soldiers who are deployed and give them just a tad of happiness in a box," she said.

Drop-off day for donations is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 9806 N.E. Zac Lentz Parkway.

Donations may also be dropped off at Devereux Gardens in Victoria and Goliad and at Chick-fil-A in Victoria through Monday.

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