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St. Joseph resident to send care packages to US troops abroad

Sarah Czerwinski, from St. Joseph, has a heart of gold.

A close friend, Alyssa Artola, deployed with the Urbana-based Illinois National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team to the Ukraine in June. Artola and her unit of approximately 165 soldiers are part of a Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine deployed to support U.S. European Command operations.

Their mission is part of ongoing efforts by the U.S. to contribute to Ukraine’s long-term military reform and is provided at the request of the Ukrainian government. Observing a "train-the-trainer" approach, the Urbana based unit along with NATO allies and partners, are in-country to advise and mentor the Armed Forces of Ukraine Observer Controller / Trainers at the Combat Training Center located near Yavoriv.

They will not be involved in conflict operations.

Raised in a military family, Czerwinski, whose father retired at major after 20 years of service in the Army, wanted to send her friend a care package several weeks ago. In a conversation with Artola she learned that troopers "get excited when they get mail", no matter what it is.

"I thought it was sad that people don't get mail," said Czerwinski, who decided not only to send her friend a care package, but one to every trooper in the brigade. "I thought it would be nice, something for them to look forward to."

She hatched a plan to gather as many items and boxes as she could through the month of October and then ship them out in time for to be received on Veteran’s Day.

"I wasn't really sure where to start," Czerwinski admitted. She posted a couple of messages on Facebook asking for donations and was pleasantly surprised by the response. "It's been a wonderful experience so far. The number of people willing to donate has been touching."

A member from the high school student council reached out and after receiving approval from the school administration, boxes will available at St. Joseph-Ogden High School starting this week to collect donated items.

There is also a box at Chris Booth State Farm, where she works, on the corner of Fox and State in Champaign, for donations. Czerwinski has also had people drop off items at her home.

Suggested items include:
Snack bars
Seasoning salt
Hot sauces
Flavor packets for water
Energy bars
Beef jerky
Instant rice/Mac-n-cheese
Small toiletries
Shower items
Board games
Playing cards

If residents have any extra holiday decorations or working lights lying around, she would love to ship them to the American men and women serving our country.

"They may not have a tree, but the decor and lights would be great," she said.

The cost of shipping a box weighing up to 10 pounds is $20. Czerwinski is also accepting monetary donations to help cover the postal fee. She plans to deliver all the boxes and parcels she can to the post office in St. Joseph on October 30.

For more information on you can help, residents can contact Czerwinski via Facebook or send an email to sendingwithsarah@gmail.com

"I really appreciate all the support from people."

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