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Club to send sweets to soldiers

In the midst of their annual candy sale, members of a Costa Mesa-based Camp Fire USA club are extending their offering of Almond Caramel Clusters, Creamy Smooth Mint Patties and other sweets to American troops in Iraq.

For $5, locals can purchase a box or jar of candy for the Army troop adopted by the city of Costa Mesa last year as part of the city's Operation: Cupid program, in which Valentine's Day care packages will be mailed to each of the 104 members of the Delta Company, 2-25th Aviation Regiment of the U.S. Army.

"It's important to let the soldiers know we want them home safe and that we appreciate what they're doing," said club leader Yvette Erskine, whose two children have sold 80 boxes of candy for D Company. "No matter how you feel about the war, I think the important point is to get these young men and women to know that we care about them and that we want them home."

On Monday, local residents and businesses will join Erskine's club at the Neighborhood Community Center to stuff boxes full of candy, toiletries and miscellaneous "goodies" to be sent to Iraq, with the goal of two packages for each soldier.

Each package will also include a handmade valentine, thanks to local Camp Fire USA boys and girls. The lunch tables at Paularino Elementary School were brimming with ribbons, glitter and stickers Friday as 15 members and their parents cut up construction paper, drew countless hearts and glued together more than 100 valentines for the Army troop.

"We're doing the valentines because it makes us feel good that we are giving them something and it makes them feel good, too, because somebody is thinking about them," said club member Yvonne Hurtado, 10, of Huntington Beach.

Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley said the program is particularly important at a time when soldiers are far from their "significant others" and some are concerned about having to stay in Iraq longer than they had initially planned.

"With Valentine's Day coming up, these soldiers are going to be missing their loved ones," she said. "We thought we would send some love their way."

Community members are invited to Costa Mesa's Operation: Cupid packaging party at 5 p.m. Monday at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., in Costa Mesa, where volunteers are needed to write letters, stuff packages and prepare mailing information. Donations of personal care items such as soap, toothpaste and deodorant and snacks can be dropped off in advance to a collection box in the City Hall lobby. The city is still in need of donations of postage.

Source: Daily Pilot

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