By Lizzy Scully
This past July, the Berthoud Recorder wrote a story on the Loveland Elks’ support of an Iraqi burn clinic run by the 82nd Airborne Division. When the 82nd Airborne returned to the United States, the burn clinic was turned over to the Iraqis, and according to Troop Support Committee member Larry Reisdorff, supplies the Elks have sent have since not reached their destination.
“We lost all of our contacts with them,” he explained. “I just got a box back that we shipped that says, ‘no longer in service.’”
However, Riesdorff added, the Elks continue to support the troops in other ways. In fact, they are in the process of putting together a holiday shipment, which will be sent out on November 15.
In the Elks latest newsletter, Riesdorff asked for as many cookies as people could bake. “We want to try to do a holiday thing,” he said. He’ll also include mints, candy, beef jerky, powder drinks, books, shampoo and Tabasco sauce.
“That’s something they always ask for,” Riesdorff said of the spicy sauce. “They love to kill the taste of the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).”
“So far we’ve shipped 34 shipments to 18 different units,” Riesdorff added. The total cost has been about $20,000, and the goods sent have included everything from soccer balls and feminine hygiene items to 300 pounds of coffee and a complete and brand new softball outfit. “We try to get basketballs, footballs … something to give the troops something to do,” Riesdorff said. “A lot of them have free time and are sitting around twiddling their fingers.”
Though the Elks don’t get much direct feedback from troops, they often hear back from the appreciative families, who are typically directly connected with an Elks member. In fact, this shipment is being sent to a variety of individuals who are directly related to Elks Lodge members, including: Corporal Scott Marvick, who is with the Third Armored Calvary Reg. FOB Warhorse; Trevor Johnson, with the HOLO B Co. 2nd Aviation Wing; and his wife (they recently married), Specialist Kelli Aitken, who is with B Company 2-1 General Support Aviation, FOB Speicner.
“Our main goal is to support the troops period,” Riesdorff explained. “But we want to try to support Colorado people first, and then go from there.”
Riesdorff specifically requests money rather than used goods. It costs anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to mail packages to Iraq and Afghanistan, and Riesdorff prefers purchasing new items rather than used goods. For more information, call the Elks Lodge at (970) 669-6330, or drop goods or checks off at 103 E. Fourth Street in Loveland.