CALUMET - Since Sept. 11, the Calumet High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has been funneling support to local troops stationed in Afghanistan through shipments of personal hygiene items.
The Calumet JROTC was inspired to send care packages to local troops serving in Afghanistan by Spc. Steven Nelson, who was injured in an improvised explosive device attack in August.
Nelson recommended the group put together the care packages for his company of about 160 soldiers still stationed in Afghanistan after the Calumet JROTC asked how they could help him.
Ashley Curtis/Daily Mining Gazette
The Calumet Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has been collecting personal hygiene items for local troops stationed in Afghanistan and will continue collecting until the troops are redeployed back to the states.
"We thought that it was unbelievably selfless of this young man who is seriously injured in the hospital to say the way that you can help me is by helping the people that are still there," said Maj. Michael Farley, senior army instructor of the JROTC program for Calumet and Lake Linden-Hubbell high schools.
The campaign kicked off on National Day of Service on Sept. 11, a day to honor and recognize the service of the troops.
"On that day, we went to various local stores ... set up stations and asked people to provide various items needed by the troops," Farley said.
Collection boxes were set up in Pat's Foods IGA in Calumet, Louie's Super Foods in Calumet and Lake Linden and Shopko Hometown in Calumet.
To best meet the needs of the soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, the Calumet JROTC started contacting the local National Guard and 1st Sgt. David Rye of the 1433rd Engineer Company, the company Nelson was deployed in.
Based on the needs of the soldiers, the Calumet JROTC began collecting personal hygiene items, including deodorant, disposable razors, shaving cream, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, items that are not readily available through the supply system and things people enjoy eating like beef jerky and hard candy. They have also sent magazines and DVDs and like to use local newspapers as packing material.
"One of our cadets really took charge of the project in terms of packaging. Taylor Johnson has been working for weeks since 9-11 to sort, package, label and prepare all of the packages for mailing," Farley said.
In addition to support from local businesses, several community organizations have also donated to the cause, including the Marine Corps League, American Legion Post 61 and its ladies auxiliary, VFW Post 3900 and its ladies auxiliary, American Legion Post 90, Houghton County Mental Health, Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools and the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw.
"Those organizations have all provided money for postage. So far, we've spent about $500 in postage," Farley said.
The Calumet JROTC has been in contact with Rye several times to confirm that the packages have been arriving and to see if there are any additional needs the group can help meet.
"Our goal was to send a few (packages) everyday so they would start arriving between Thanksgiving and Christmas," Farley said.
Through the support of community members, businesses and organizations, the Calumet JROTC has sent about 40 packages that are typically organized for two soldiers.
"We're just thrilled with the support that we get from the community," Farley said, "We're going to continue to accumulate and ship right up until their redeployment back to the states."
Those wishing to donate and support the 1433rd Engineer Company stationed in Afghanistan can call the Calumet JROTC Department at 337-2020.