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Concert to benefit Army Reserve unit

| Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004

Local soldiers headed to war overseas will have an easier time keeping in touch with home, thanks to a few fund-raising events in the Mon Valley.

Kelli Wingard, of Adah, said a family support group has organized two dances this month and a country rock concert in April to benefit members of the U.S. Army's Brownsville-based 430th Reserve Unit that are shipping out.

The first of three events, an evening dance, will happen 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the West Brownsville American Legion.

On Nov. 27, another dance featuring local classic rock band Area 51 will take place from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Nov. 27 at the Palms Yacht Club in Lower Speers.

A final fund-raiser will be April 17 at Rostraver Ice Gardens, where a group of country rock bands will perform.

Wingard said the families of about 40 soldiers in the military unit -- roughly 20 of which are from the Mon Valley -- would use the proceeds from the events to send care packages to unit members once they are in Iraq. Wingard's son, 21-year-old Sgt. Stephen Carr, recently received orders to join the war effort.

Wingard works as assistant manager at Dollar General in California. And when she mentioned at work that she would like to help the troops, her boss hooked her up with concert promoter Jed Hunt, of Youngwood.

Hunt, who has organized charity fund-raisers in the past, was able to get the American Legion and Yacht club to offer their venues free of charge for the events.

Wingard said some of the requested items -- such as pantyhose and flea collars -- actually come in handy for the troops.

"There are so many parasites over there that they put flea collars on the legs of their bunks to keep them away. They put pantyhose in their boots to keep the scorpions out," Wingard said.

Other items, such as batteries , food, toiletries, magazines and music CDs, would be included in the care packages.

The money collected from the fund-raisers will also help pay for postage when the soldiers send letters or other items back home to their families, Wingard said.

Hunt said the April 17 concert at Rostraver Ice Gardens will be a major event.

He said proceeds from that concert will go to the 99th Army Reserve Command, the command center for regional U.S. Army Reserve units.

Wingard said she has been busy promoting the events and it seems there is a growing interest.

"It makes me feel grateful to the people around here to know that they care enough about the soldiers to do this," she said.

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