Items for soldiers’ care packages to be collected

Troops need:

• Beef jerky, trail mix, granola bars, protein bars, instant drink mix, hot chocolate packets, instant oatmeal packets, snack foods, cookies, gum, hard candy.

• Body wash, deoderant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, eye drops, lip balm, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, Q-tips, Mach 3 razor blades, sunglasses, cotton socks, brushes and combs, bandanas.

• Holiday CDs, DVDs, travel-size games, books, magazines, notecards, X-Box games, PS2 games, Frisbees, Nerf footballs.

Collection sites in Rochester:


• Christos Bookcenter inside Autumn Ridge Church, 3611 Salem Road S.W. — 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

• Red Cross, 310 14th Street S.E. — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

By Jeff Hansel

Saturday will be a big day for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Operation Hometown Gratitude and the Red Cross have been collecting Treats for the Troops in an effort that will culminate Saturday in a region-wide collection of items needed by soldiers overseas.

Red Cross executive director Melanie Tschida said donations are needed this weekend for care packages that will be packed next week.

Most of the packages are going to Afghanistan and Iraq, Tschida said. She said Rochester residents haven’t embraced the effort like other communities.


Holiday care packages might seem strange to think about before Thanksgiving, Tschida said.

"It’s early, no snow on the ground," she said. "It doesn’t feel like it’s quite time to send care packages." But the care packages must be mailed Tuesday to reach soldiers by Christmas.

The Red Cross is also accepting cash donations to help pay shipping costs and buy additional items. Checks made out to Operation Hometown Gratitude may be mailed to 310 14th St. S.E., Rochester, MN 55904.

For all of the region’s collection sites, go to

Red Cross collection sites

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