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Heaven sent: Family packages care through Soldiers' Angels

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
March 6, 2009
— When Christine Blomquist puts together a care package for a U.S. soldier serving abroad, she prefers using a flat rate box.

It costs about $10 no matter how much stuff she can cram into it.


Blomquist of Beloit estimates she and her family spend about $30 a month sending packages to soldiers they have adopted through Soldiers' Angels, a worldwide nonprofit group that supports the military and their families.


"The main thing we do is adopt a soldier and send them a letter a week and a package a month," said Blomquist, who is the organization's state coordinator and community team leader in south central Wisconsin.


"My family and I wanted to do more for the soldiers because they do so much for us," Blomquist said.


She signed up her family with the group in 2006 and wants others to know about Soldiers' Angels.


More than 130 members of a Janesville-based Wisconsin Army National Guard unit left in February and will be away from their families for about a year, spending most of the time in Iraq.


"I want to raise awareness of who we are and what we do," she said.


The first soldier the Blomquists adopted was from Iowa. At the time, he was stationed in Baghdad but now is in Germany.


"We still e-mail him once in a while, and he e-mails us," Blomquist said.


Since then, the Blomquists have adopted six more soldiers.


"I write mostly about what's going on with the family, work and weather; sometimes about sports and in the spring and summer I write about my garden," Blomquist said.


Her children—Zach, 12, and Megan, 9—also write letters and have gotten their classmates to write letters, too.


"They make pictures and stuff like that," Blomquist said.


Her husband, Brian, likes to e-mail the troops, she said.


Packages have included cookies, microwavable popcorn, soups, magazines and coffee.


"It doesn't have to be big, it could be something small," Blomquist said.


She knows what it's like to have a loved one abroad. Her 24-year-old stepson, Eli Blomquist, has served five tours in Baghdad and just returned stateside around Christmas. She also has a brother, who is a warrant officer with the National Guard.


Being part of Soldiers' Angels is a small thing to do in return for what troops are doing for Americans, Blomquist said.


"They're away from their family and their homes. It's a way to show we appreciate them," she said.


"They're protecting us, and they don't have to. It's a small way of doing something for them."



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