Island County American Red Cross has shipped item, ranging from chapstick to candy, to military installations in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for distribution to service members. The items were donated by local schools and businesses.
Chapter manager Jean Hermanson says the chapter’s new “Whidbey Express” program began in mid-September. According to Hermanson the community response was “immediate and outstanding.” South Whidbey, Coupeville and Oak Harbor students immediately began gathering items during special drives at their schools.
Local motels donated toiletry items, with daycares, retirement homes and community organizations donating a variety of items, all for the benefit of military personnel deployed overseas. Hermanson said that the program even received items from as far away as St. Brendan’s School in Bothel.
Items that will be distributed by Red Cross personnel in Incirlik, Turkey; Saudi Arabia and Kuwait include toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, shaving cream, chapstick, games, puzzles, playing cards, videos, assorted greeting cards, hot chocolate, cider, popcorn and candy. Hermanson says that “all in all 188 pounds of stuff has been sent.”
Whidbey Express program was coordinated by a chapter volunteer, Maria McGee, an intern from Western Washington University. McGee worked with all participating organizations and collected, sorted and shipped items from Pony Mailing in Oak Harbor.
Program expenses were paid by the chapter and made possible by local contributions. The chapter hopes to collect and send more items in the future, but is not soliciting or collecting items now.