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Collection for soldiers' Christmas care-packages begins near Mt. Pleasant

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Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
The Magical Memories Collector's Club, sponsored by Joanne's Hallmark, has been collecting donations of small items to send to soldiers overseas for the holidays. Pictured (from left) are Carol Balgosky of Connellsville, the club's president; Cairn Firestone of Mt. Pleasant, a club member; and Sandy Neville of Ruffsdale. A full list of items being collected can be found at the drop box located in the store at Summit Ridge Plaza in East Huntingdon.

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By Cami Dibattista
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Magical Memories Collector's Club is collecting items to complete care packages for local soldiers stationed overseas.

A donation box has been set up inside the Summit Ridge Plaza Joanne's Hallmark, in East Huntingdon, which is the club's sponsor.

“The packages are a way for us to let the soldiers know we care,” said Carol Balgosky, the club's president and a Connellsville resident.

“It's a little touch of home for them for the holidays — something to ease the tension,” she said.

Club members collected names of local soldiers stationed overseas from the Connellsville Patriots group.

They have begun to fill the boxes. But to create packages for each soldier on the list, members are seeking help from the public.

The group is asking for non-perishable food and snack items such as hard candy, gum, drink mixes, beef jerky, hot sauce, and pop top cans of tuna or chicken to include in the packages.

Individually wrapped condiments such as packages of salt, pepper, sugar or sweetener are also being collected.

Toiletry items such as small shampoo and conditioners, lip balm, women's care products, sunscreen, body wash and wet wipes are also needed to complete the boxes, as well as green or white socks and one- to two-gallon Ziploc bags.

“We've been told the sand gets into everything and the bags make it easier for the soldiers to keep their belongings clean,” Balgosky said.

Additionally, entertainment items such word search or crossword puzzle books, decks of cards, small games and pre-paid phone cards are on the list of items being sought out for the packages.

“Cards and letters of appreciation are also something that's always nice for them to receive,” Balgosky said.

Every year the collector's club group chooses a different worthy recipient or cause.

They aim for two charitable events per year. Past years have included donations to local food banks, care packages for a National Guard unit being deployed from the Mt. Pleasant area and a winter clothing drive for local needy families.

“We like to try to keep what we do in the local area,” said Sandy Neville, a club member and store representative of Ruffsdale. “We enjoy being able to reach out to the community.”

Club member and Mt. Pleasant resident Cairn Firestone said the group decided on its cause this year because “We just want to show them our appreciation for all that they're doing for us.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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