Vets and volunteers team up for MS troops in Iraq

By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Mississippi soldiers deployed overseas will have a merrier Christmas this year thanks to "Soldiers' Angels." It's a non-profit group working to provide comfort and support to the men and women of our Armed Forces.

The group recently teamed up with members of American Legion Post 77 in Waveland to box up hundreds of Christmas gifts and goodies for Mississippi troops.

Jeanne Graeser has been a member of the Soldiers' Angels program for five years

"600 gifts for 600 soldiers," Graeser said. "Today we boxed up hot chocolate mugs, hot apple cider , candies, Christmas candies, Christmas gifts, scarves that people have knitted. These guys are over there without their families, and I feel that this is the least we can do to make Christmas more pleasant for them."

The packages will be shipped to members of the 155th Calvary Regiment in Iraq. The veterans from post 77 know how important it is for a soldier to receive letters and gifts from home.

Russell Voorhies is the Commander of American Legion Post 77.

"For their moral, it's spectacular ," Voorhies said. "Even the simplest form of simply saying thank you means an awful lot to a soldier, but now to get a package from people back home, it's fantastic."

"It just warms your heart to know that people back home in the United States support us and love us and care about what we're doing," Navy veteran Marcia Hebert said. "There is nothing better than getting a gift from even a total stranger to brighten your day."

"These little things that we send not necessarily mean a Christmas gift," Graeser said. "It means someone that you don't even know cares enough to send their heart to you."

Graeser wanted to thank several kind hearted donors for the gifts that were collected in less than three weeks.

"Thanks to my church, the United Methodist on Main Street. They joined in with me, along with Kesler Realty were wonderful. Walmart here in Waveland, the employees gave so many gifts and support. The employees jumped in there, they got candy canes, they got Christmas trees, decorations. Things that these guys will enjoy having at Christmas time."

Donors also paid about $500 to ship everything overseas. The packages should arrive in Iraq in about two weeks.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.