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Blue Star Mothers group packs gift boxes for soldiers

Blue Star Mothers, along with fathers and friends, gathered to pack holiday packages for soldiers Saturday in Park Rapids. Front row, from left, are Marlene May, Jasmine Cease and Talya Smith. Second row, from left, are Russ Carmichael, Connie Carmichael, Deb Korsgaden, Marie Flora, Rich Coulter and Jeanette Bates. Back row, from left, are Gary Korsgaden, Nancy Anderson, Dennis Anderson, Randy Wilson, Mae Benjamin, Sandra Bates, Michael Bates and Eric Smith. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

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 holiday packages include snacks, socks, spoons and forks, hats and toiletries. They were packed by mothers, fathers and friends.

Connie Carmichael, president of the Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, organized the box packing event. One of the large donations this year was from the Ride for the Troops committee and RP Broadcasting, Inc. The organization donated more than $7,000 in gift cards for the soldiers. Soldiers should receive their packages in time to enjoy the holidays with a piece of home.

"Thank you to everyone who showed up to volunteer," Carmichael told Saturday's group of volunteers.

The group gathered at the Park Rapids Area Library.

Blue Star Mothers has two main fundraisers. One is the Blue Daisy Sale in August and the other is called Boots for Troops, with businesses around the area setting out a soldiers' boot to collect money.

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

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

Members of the group support each other along with families who have loved ones in the military.

Carmichael said the group is expanding and has members from around the area Detroit Lakes, Cass Lake, Nevis and Park Rapids.

The national organization was formed in 1998. Donna Walsh, the mother of two servicemen, founded the Northwoods Chapter.

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 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.

For more information about the Blue Star Mothers, to join or to donate, call Carmichael at 218-252-0086. The Blue Star Mother's mailing address is PO Box 734, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561