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More boxes sent to troops in Afghanistan

VFW Post 10818 members (left to right) Dave Sharretts, Ron Ebert and Dave Green, along with Ryan Schradle of the Youth Basketball Association, pose by some of the packaged boxes that will soon make their way to Afghanistan and into the hands of the soldiers with the 229th Horizontal Engineering Company.1 / 2
Dave Mehls, left, and Dave Green, commander of VFW Post 10818, pose with a $300 check, which was donated by the VFW to the project to help pay the postage for the boxes.2 / 2

A second round of boxes are on their way to the soldiers of the 229th Horizontal Engineering Company out of Platteville and Prairie du Chien, thanks to a few local organizations.

Thirty-three boxes were packaged and will be shipped this week.

The project, led by Dave Mehls, site manager of Freedom Park in New Richmond, was organized as a way to thank the members of the 229th Engineer Company from Platteville.

The 229th Engineer Company completed training in New Richmond in 2011 as training for this deployment. The soldiers were tasked with excavating two soccer fields and a parking lot at Freedom Park, saving the city thousands of dollars. The soldiers are expected to serve a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, according to Carmen Beauvais, a Star Prairie resident whose husband, Jordan, is deployed with the unit.

The first shipment of boxes, dubbed "Operation Afghan Santa," were sent to the soldiers in November. At that time the group decided it would try to send a second shipment in the spring.

Plans for the second shipment started to take shape in January, when the New Richmond Youth Basketball Association's Little Dribblers program started collecting items for the boxes under the direction of Ryan Schradle. During a Jan. 25 girls basketball game, all current soldiers and veterans were given free admission and the game was titled, "Tribute to the Troops." Game-goers were asked to bring licorice, beef jerky, hard candy, Q-tips, dryer sheets, magazines and DVDs.

In February, advisor Steph Karno and the New Richmond High School Key Club and Student Council were asked to collect items during the school's Ice Fest celebration, which ran Feb. 4-8. At the conclusion of the week, the Student Council members went shopping to collect any remaining items needed to ensure that all the soldiers got containers of Q-tips and a box of dryer sheets.

Kindergarteners from Paperjack Elementary also wrote letters to the soldiers.

The packages, which Mehls said he plans to send this week, are being mailed thanks to funds from New Richmond's VFW Post 10818 ($300) and New Richmond Key Club ($173.55).

Dave Green, commander of the New Richmond VFW Post 10818, expressed an interest in funding the postage after hearing about the second shipment.