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Troop Support Effort Continues
Five years after the United States first went to war in Iraq, the Escalon Support the Troops Coalition is still going strong.

With Joy Sweger now at the helm, the group has just finished packing up another shipment of boxes to send to military troops overseas.

"We'll send out about 40 boxes this time," Sweger said, as she and daughter Christina were busy putting the finishing touches on the latest boxes.

New 'military mail' boxes through the U.S. Postal Service are available at a special rate, specifically for the troops, she said.

"There's no weight restriction," Sweger said of stuffing the box full of goods. "You can cram as much in there as possible and it's the same price."

The boxes, which go for $12.95 normally, are available for $10.95 when shipped to a military address.

The effort was coordinated originally in Escalon by former resident Maridale Smith through the Escalon Republican Women, and Sweger was also there at the start, taking over when Smith moved from the area.

"We still have a blue barrel in the Post Office" for collection of donated items, Sweger said.

There are few restrictions; no pork items can be sent but there is always the need for crackers, nuts, chips, beef jerky, hard candy, gum, drink mix packs and various other snacks. Toiletries accepted include travel size lotions and toothpastes, toothbrushes, deodorants and more. There is also always a need for socks.

"They love gum," Sweger said of one of the more popular items packed in the boxes from home.

Often, soldiers receiving the boxes respond to the notes tucked inside, offering their thanks for those remembering them, half a world away.