Hal Woods celebrated the Marine Corps Birthday on Friday, Nov. 10, by challenging his fellow emergency responders to donate snack and hygiene items for care packages that will be sent to troops in Afghanistan.
Woods, a firefighter/medic with Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, knows first-hand how much of a morale boost it is to get a box from home while in a combat zone.
He joined the Corps at the age of 18 and deployed with the Second Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, to the Middle East when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a U.S. ally, in 1990.
A veteran of the Gulf War, Woods said knowing that America has your back is vital to achieving your mission.
“I am reaching out to all of you in this community, especially law enforcement and firefighters who are on the front lines at home, to help give our warriors a touch of comfort,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a little thing, or a lot, it all helps.”
MCF&R has set up a collection box at its 1400 W. 8th Street station. Items may also be left at Safeway, the Civic Auditorium, True Value and The Dalles Chronicle. The Hood River News is also a drop-off point.
“People need to remember that there are Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen now in harm’s way to defend our freedoms and our country,” said Woods.
He referenced the most recent troop death; that of Army Sgt. First Class Stephen B. Cribben, 33, of Simi Valley, Calif. Cribben was killed in action Nov. 5 in Logar Province during a combat operation. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, according to a Department of Defense press release.
Cribben was a decorated soldier, having earned the Bronze Star, nine Army Achievement Medals, five Army Good Conduct Meals, among other commendations.
“It is important for us to remember his sacrifice and that everyone over there is in danger and needs to know that we care about their welfare,” said Woods. The Holiday for Heroes Committee, comprised of representatives from area businesses and organizations, has less than a week left to collect goods for boxes that will be packed at the Civic, 323 E. Fourth St., on Thursday, Nov. 16.
The group will offer a dinner at 5:30 p.m. for a suggested donation (proceeds will be used to support the Christmas package drive).
Local band “Outside the Wire,” which formed to raise money for veteran causes, takes the stage to entertain while community members bag up the treats for soldiers from an Oregon National Guard unit and others in the field.
Special requests have been made by members of the National Guard’s 1186th Military Police Company forward detachment, which trains in Hood River, for MIO concentrate that can be added to water, meat snacks such as jerky, and chemical handwarmers.
Army veteran Roger Howe, who spent 13 months in Vietnam, has contributed toward the shipping fund and challenged other veterans to step up and support the cause. “We get what it means to get something from home,” he said after making the donation.
Elizabeth Wallis, manager of the Civic, and Chris Mumford, founder of “Got Your Six,” co-chair the committee.
They have arranged for several area schools to provide artwork for the boxes and people are invited to bring post cards to show off the Gorge to the box packing event.
“It is overwhelming to see how much support this project has gotten. People are opening up their hearts and wallets for these soldiers,” said Wallis. “I think being able to connect with these soldiers, especially during the holidays, is a really good thing.”
The Dalles Outpost of Point Man International Ministries, a nonprofit organization, is providing receipts so people can deduct contributions to the cause from their taxes.
Monetary donations can be sent to: Point Man, P.O. Box 1775, The Dalles, Ore. 97058.
For more information about the Holiday for Heroes outreach, people can call Mumford at 541-980-1911 or Wallis at 541-298-8533.