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Last updated: Fri. Dec. 14, 2012 - 07:51 am EDT

COLUMN

Komets Kare Package fills big need for America's troops

Program enters sixth year at Sunday's Komets game

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog, www.tailingthekomets.com.

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With United States troops coming home soon from the Middle East, many people may believe the need for Komets Kare Package should be decreasing. As long as there's any need, we'll keep going.

For the sixth year, The News-Sentinel, the Fort Wayne Komets, Federal Express and WANE are combining to sponsor Komets Kare Package at home games Sunday, Wednesday and Dec. 22. Fans are encouraged to bring donation items that we'll give to Hoosiers Helping Heroes to send to Indiana service members around the world.

"There are men and women all over the world serving this country," said Montana Speicherweimer, co-founder of Hoosiers Helping Heroes. "If you are at a forward operating base, they don't have the PXs (post exchanges) like the big, established bases. If you are out on a mission and if you come back in and there's nothing in the PX, you just do without. That's where we come in."

And Komets Kare Package has become the major winter supplier for HHH over the past five years. Fans donate such things as toiletries, books, games, drink sleeves, hard candy, letters, videos and snacks that are included in care packages that are sent out once a month. More than 50 Christmas packages shipped two weeks ago.

Since November, 2006, Hoosiers Helping Heroes has sent more than 8,000 care packages to Indiana service members.

"We do our big Christmas packages, and we have to send them out three weeks prior so they get to the soldiers in time," Speicherweimer said. "After January, we don't have a lot of good (items) left. What we gather at Komets Kare Package takes us through until July when Midwest America does their big drive for the heroes. Without Midwest America, FedEx and Komets Kare, we can't do what we're doing. We can't make the mission happen. The mission is that every 30 days our heroes serving in hot zones all over the world get a care package."

More than 50 care packages were sent out Dec. 3, including a large donation of items from Frontier. Because of the work Hoosiers Helping Heroes has been doing, word has spread throughout the chaplains serving overseas, and the organization is now shipping many of them care packages as well.

Speicherweimer also collects drawings and letters from schools to include in the care packages, so those donations are also encouraged.

Should anyone like to donate items without going to a Komets game, they can drop them off at Federal Express, 3620 Independence Drive, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

This year, fans can also donate old cellphones at the Illinois and Lima roads Preferred Auto locations.

"You can turn in cellphones. They get recycled and then turned into phone cards that they can send to the soldiers so they can call home," said Dan Duesler of Federal Express.

Once the care packages are completed, if there are any extra supplies, Speicherweimer donates them to local churches, food pantries and organizations helping homeless veterans.

"We think when the wars are all over that our mission ends, but it will continue because then we have all these soldiers coming home with all this head trauma, not able to get jobs and some are going to be homeless," she said. "We'll just transition to another way to help."

Speicherweimer and local service members will be at all three games to greet and talk with fans coming into Memorial Coliseum.


This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at bsebring@news-sentinel.com bsebring@news-sentinel.com> .


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