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Remembering our local service members families

October 2, 2010
By Mary Ann Menendez

Special to the EDN:

It should be every day but especially at this time of year we should be thinking about going out of our way and doing something for those men and women who proudly serve in America's Armed Forces. Also, we should not hesitate in doing for the wives, children and other loved ones left behind. The loneliness of separation reaches across the miles to affect the soldier and his family, especially the little children whose ache hurts immeasurably. There is tremendous sacrifice abroad and right here at home in order to protect all of the freedoms we all take for granted.

Everyone who lives in Northwest Iowa can contribute some time and treasure to help support our local National Guard and Reserve families to show we care.

Article Photos

Chad Wallendorf of Milford and his fiance Kori Moss and their children Evan Wellendorf, Allison Wellendorf and Ryanna Moss at the Guard sendoff Aug. 1.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

"Far from the active duty community, National Guard and Reserve families feel isolated. Unlike their active duty counterparts in the War on Terrorism, guardsmen and their families don't live near military bases. Therefore the families left behind feel isolation in their communities," Gene Haukoos, HMCM (SW) USN Retired, said. "As their world is turned upside down the rest of us go about our daily lives as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. It may even seem to the families that we do not care."

As Americans, we should be compelled to see these acts of kindness as a patriotic opportunity rather than an obligation to show support to those in uniform as well as their families. "Our service members need to know that his/her family is safe and looked out for so they can do the job they have to do thousands of miles away from home," Haukoos said.

It isn't hard to figure out who they are as they are our neighbors and friends who go through the motions of day-to-day living like the rest of us: shopping at stores, worshiping at church, working at their jobs and making sure the children of the Guard are loved and cared for 24/7. "We need to reach out to these military family members and offer help in any way possible. It may just to have someone to talk to, watch the kids will she runs errands, mow her yard, shovel the walk. It is the smallest things that count the most," he said.

Other ways we can all come together as a community to make a huge difference in the lives of the troops and their families is to help fund the activities that have been scheduled in their honor.

Activity Schedule

Oct. 30 - The Halloween Association is hosting a Halloween party for the Guardsmen's children.

November - Christmas care packages will be sent to service man and women of the area. If you have a loved one serving overseas please send their APO or FPO address to Gene Haukoos, 15 N. First St., Estherville, IA 51334 before Monday, Nov. 1.

December - A children's Christmas party will be held at the Estherville Elks Lodge.

January - The Regional Wellness Center and the V.F.W. Auxiliary are teaming up for a family fun event followed by a dinner.

As in planning any event, expenses are incurred from Halloween candy to Christmas gifts. "You can help us with these and other activities by volunteering to assist at any event. But the item we need most is money to make these events happen," Haukoos said, adding, "You can support a Christmas package $25.00, the mailing cost of $12.50 or any part thereof."

He noted the Christmas care package is a 12-inch-by-12-inch square box by 6 inches deep. To fill it with cookies, candy, coffee, tea, microwave popcorn, powered drink additives (Anything that makes water taste better!), and other dried foods cost approximately $25 to fill and another $12.50 to mail.

"With approximately 85 Guardsmen and an unknown number other service men and women from the area serving overseas this is going to be are most expensive and appreciated activity."

Now is the time to get your employees, parishioners, club members, civic organizations and family to show their support of our troops and their families.

Items can be dropped off at the Estherville Chamber of Commerce office located at 620 1st Ave South Estherville, IA 51334. Checks should be made out to the Estherville Chamber with the word "Troops" written in the memo line. The fund raiser will start Monday, Oct. 4 and continue to Veterans Day Nov. 11. If you have any questions call Gene Haukoos at 712-209-0433 or e-mail him at



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