The Mining Journal November 3, 2003
Christmas gifts from home going to Iraq
A variety of gifts, including decorations and hometown souvenirs, were packed Saturday for reserve soldiers serving in Iraq from the Marquette area. A card from the popular local band "Da Yoopers" reads, 
"Keep your head down and your powder dry, eh!"


   Marquette - Well-wishers supporting a Marquette Army reserve unit will be heading to the ost office today with a load of Christmas gifts, goodies and souvenirs bound for Iraq. 
   "We wanted to do something for Christmas for them," said Nicole Robinson of Marquette, whose husband William Robinson is a specialist serving the 652nd Engineer Company based in Marquette. 
   Roughly two dozen volunteers packed up nearly a ton of goods for the soldiers in Marquette Saturday afternoon. About $4000.00 was contributed to the effort
   "We've had over 80 contributors, whether it be business or personal, some of whom have donated their time to help package this stuff up," Robinson said.
   The 44 containers, which weighed about 20 pounds each, held a wide variety of items ranging from pillows, towels and food, copies of the Porcupine Press newspaper and thermal shirts and DVD movies to a Yooper glossary and Da Yoopers new CD, "Songs for Fart Lovers." 
   The soldiers are also being sent 10 artificial Christmas trees, ornaments, coffee pots, toasters and a microwave oven.
   "We wanted to make them a little more comfortable," said Patty French, one of the organizers of the event along with Robinson.
   French, whose sister, Spec. Elizabeth Belt of Marquette, serves with the unit, said the community outpouring and support for the "Christmas in Iraq" project was overwhelming. 
   "We want to say thank you," French said. 'I got 5 to 10 calls a day from people who wanted to show support for these guys and I'm just glad we had some way to do it."
   Organizers began collecting items for the gift packs about three months ago. The packages will take roughly three weeks to reach the soldiers in Iraq, where the unit has reportedly just moved into huts from sleeping in tents. The new accommodations relieve the troops from dealing with fleas.
   The 652nd is expected to return to the Upper Peninsula next spring. 
   Amy Armstrong, A ninth grade Gwinn High School teacher and fiancé to unit member Mike Laitinen of Negaunee, said students created a wonderful collection of poetry that Armstrong decided to include in the gift parcels for the troops. 
   The students called their effort "With many Pens We Write, With One Heart We Fight."
   Marquette's Kelly Robinson, whose brother-in-law is William Robinson, said she's very proud of all the men and women fighting for our country in Iraq. She wanted to do something to help show support. 
   "They're all over there fighting for us," Robinson said, laying some red Christmas tissue paper over a gift box. "It's the least I can do."

By John Pepin - Journal Staff Writer