Soldiers' Angels pack presents for Lucedale guardsmen

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 200 South Mississippi National Guardsmen deployed in Afghanistan will have a merrier Christmas this year thanks to the Coast chapter of the Soldiers' Angels Organization. The group has partnered with American Legion Post 77 in Waveland to box up and ship out Christmas gifts and trinkets.

The Angels have made it their mission to see that members of the 287th Engineering Battalion, based in Lucedale, are not forgotten at Christmas time.

"My soldiers are in a foreign land doing missions, putting themselves in danger. At this time of year, they should be with their families enjoying Christmas," Jeanne Graeser said. "This is one of the ways we can provide a little comfort and appreciation to our soldiers."

Jeanne "Granny" Graeser has been a member of Soldiers' Angels for seven years. She writes to our troops deployed overseas year-round, but wanted to do something special for them during the holidays.

"Soldiers' Angels joined up with the American Legion here with the help of my church (United Methodist on Main Street), Walmart and Imagine That, a florist here. We arranged to have 180 gifts for 180 soldiers," Graeser said.

"I think they will gladly appreciate it," volunteer Erica Cowart said. "It will help them a lot, especially to some of them who are not getting anything. Their families, nobody sends them anything. It's going to be a big morale booster."

Cowart's husband, Gordon, has been in Afghanistan with the 287th for the past seven months. She knows the gifts from home will be appreciated.

"He will jump for joy," Cowart said with a smile.

"Saints hats is one of the favorite things the soldiers like to receive," Graeser said.

Commander Richard Powers with American Legion Post 77 added, "It's a tough job they're doing over there, and we'd like to make that as comfortable as humanly possible, giving it a human touch from here, back home, to let them know that we are thinking about them."

The packages should arrive in Afghanistan in about two weeks. To learn more about Soldiers' Angels, just visit

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