- Sean Cayton
The U.S. Postal Service has a very precise and very extensive bulletin listing the items that you can and cannot send to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Among the forbidden:
Depictions of nude or seminude persons.
"Sexual items or nonauthorized political materials" (listed in that order).
Cigarettes or other tobacco.
Alcohol or beer kits.
Obscene articles, prints, paintings, cards, films, horror comics and matrices.
Pork or pork by-products. (Muslims cannot eat pork, and since American soldiers are "guests" in their country, we're respecting their religion.)
Nutmeg or allspice -- they are considered aphrodisiacs, which are a no-no.
Bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith.
Firearms and ammo of any type.
Rochelle Williams laughs out loud at that last one.
"Right, like I'm going to be sending guns to soldiers," she says.
For the past 2 1/2 years, Williams, pictured above, Peggy Eggen, Kermit Kolstad and a group of volunteers with the Fraternal Order of Eagles have been assembling and sending goodie boxes to U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
They've sent soaps, sunflower seeds, beef jerky, books, batteries, Gatorade, Beanie Babies, eyedrops, Frisbees, baseballs, toy trucks, lip gloss, magazines, fingernail polish -- just about whatever they can get their hands on.
All told, the group has sent out 350 boxes, including 85 in the past couple of weeks. (Among the most recent goodies: miniature Christmas trees and socks.)
If you know of a soldier, in Iraq or elsewhere, who would be happy to receive a box -- or if you want to donate money or stuff -- contact Williams at 637-1514.
-- Cara DeGette
Photo by Sean Cayton