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Volunteers sought to help assemble boxes for soldiers

Operation Minnesota Nice, a volunteer group that sends care packages to soldiers overseas, will be assembling boxes for shipment this weekend.

Interested volunteers can show up at the Park Rapids Legion March 28 at 9:30 a.m. or call Jean Schwartz at 732-5267 for more information.

The organization, founded in 2005, asks volunteers to adopt a soldier serving in a war zone while that soldier is deployed, and to send the soldier little care packages to let him or her know somebody back home cares.

The soldiers adopted are generally those without family or support back home, so it boosts morale for them to have someone send them reminders of home, small kindnesses in packages of candy, books, toiletries, sheets, silverware and other items that will make their deployment more tolerable.

Park Rapids octogenarian Leonard Labonte has knit his age in the number of booties he's made for soldiers stationed in the Mideast. His ankle socks have been inserted into Operation Minnesota Nice packages for the past year and are a big hit with soldiers. They send him fan letters and e-mails. Labonte recently was awarded a flag flown on an Iraqi mission in honor of his achievement.

Saturday's activity involves packing boxes, but prospective adoptive families are welcome to join and learn about the group.