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Blue Star Mothers comfort soldiers overseas

Blue Star Mothers Randi Menten, front, and Annette Detmers, work on packing boxes to send to deployed soldiers for the holidays. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
Blue Star Mothers Lorraine Garbett, Diane VanBuskirk, Janet Gruis, Connie Carmichael, Judy Harsha, Marie Flora, Mae Benjamin, Annette Detmers and Randi Menten gathered this week to pack gift boxes for soldiers. The group provides support for soldiers and their families. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

Families gathered this week to pack boxes of support for soldiers.

The Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., come together to support each other along with families who have loved ones in the military.

The latest care packages had snacks, pillow cases, cards, spoons and forks, hats and toiletries. They were packed by mothers, fathers and friends.

Mae Benjamin, president of the Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, said the group's focus is on support.

"It's about supporting soldiers, supporting families," she said.

It's not just for mothers, either. The group welcomes fathers, other family members and friends. The group meets the third Tuesday of the month at the Park Rapids Area Library at 7 p.m.

The national organization was chartered in 1960. Donna Walsh, the mother of two servicemen, founded the Northwoods Chapter.

Sixteen boxes were packed up for soldiers from the Park Rapids area.

Ken Donahue and Tracy Grove, with the Freedom Riders of Bemidji, donated $5,000 in gift cards. Other donations came from Laura Clumb, Linda Jackson, Barb Englert, Sally Hammergren, Sharon Melbo, Lamb Weston, Jerry Wilcox, Jackie Roberts and Blue Star Mothers.

"It's absolutely wonderful the support we've received for our soldiers," Benjamin said.

The Blue Star Mothers offer a shoulder to cry on for those who have soldiers that are deployed

Benjamin said one member was having a tough time and was worried about her child being overseas.

"There are all sorts of feelings that come with having a child in combat," Benjamin said. "We're here to help."

The Northwoods Chapter has a variety of members. Some have children currently deployed and others do not.

"Many of us have gone through the same thing, it's tough," Benjamin said.

Also, many husbands are involved in the group as well. It's becoming a family group rather than just mothers, she said.

Blue Star Mothers display a blue star on a banner for each child in uniform. The stars, typically hung in front windows of their homes, change to gold if a son or daughter dies in military service.

The Blue Star Flags have long been a part of our wartime history. They have been hung in the family's windows of service men and women since World War I. These banners first became a way for households to indicate they have family members in service in 1917.

Soldiers will receive their packages in time to enjoy the holidays with a piece of home.

For more information about the Blue Star Mothers, to join or to donate, the address is PO Box 734, Park Rapids, MN 56470.