Small items can make difference to Routt County service members abroad |

Small items can make difference to Routt County service members abroad

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Daschle is serving as a logistics officer on a military base in Afghanistan.

— Air Force 1st Lt. John Das­chle has a great deal of responsibility as a logistics officer at a U.S. military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

But when he isn't working a 12-hour shift, he escapes with a simple hobby. Before Daschle completes his six-month tour of duty, he wants to wallpaper his room with personal photos — snowboard action photos from Steamboat Springs are among his favorites.

Daschle, 26, is the son of Dave and Cheri Daschle, of rural Steamboat, and is a 2003 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School. He represents a young generation of servicemen and servicewomen from across the Yampa Valley. Like most service members who are stationed far from home, modest creature comforts can make a big difference in their lives. That's why two Steamboat women, Molly Hibbard and Marci Valicenti, are again this year promoting a "Support the Troops" mailing effort.

Under the auspices of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, they are collecting addresses of service members and small gifts, which they will ship in care packages for the holidays with the help of local businesses.

"Molly and I have been doing a grass-roots effort here in Steamboat since Thanksgiving 2003," Valicenti said. "Lynn McNasby has been helping us most of these years, as she met us when her son was serving in Iraq and was a beneficiary of our care packages."

The items service members treasure include magazines, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lip balm, prepaid phone cards and snacks. Don't discount the desire for personal hygiene items from foot powder to laundry detergent, the organizers added.

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Above all, the volunteers are seeking the names and addresses of service members, who need not be residents of Northwest Colorado to receive care packages. E-mail Hibbard at or Valicenti at

Dave Daschle said his son had dreamed of becoming a military flyer and was close to landing a coveted pilot's slot while he was a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps while studying at the University of Colorado. Partial colorblindness bumped him out of contention.

Instead, he serves a crucial role today making sure that military installations in and around Kandahar never lack for fuel and water.

"He tells us he spends most of his time inside the wire, as they say, at the base," Dave Daschle said. "But he makes sure the outlying bases don't run out."

Small gifts make a big difference in the morale of his son and his fellow soldiers, Dave Daschle added.

"He loves sunflower seeds, so we send him big bags of those along with lots of pictures and double stick tape," he said. "His older brother, Michael, sends him hot chocolate because he says it gets cold there."

Michael Daschle, who also is in the service, suggests small packages of powdered drink mixes such as Crystal Light and pre-sweetened Kool-Aid. Michael Daschle flew Chi­nook helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, he trains new drone pilots at a base in Arizona.

Hibbard, who is a Realtor at Prudential Steamboat Realty, and Valicenti, a Realtor with High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty, said they depend on a number of Steamboat businesses to send their care packages to service members.

McNasby has been aiding the effort by providing her warehouse at MDM Group for storage and shipping operations, and Conroy Moving and Stor­age has provided shipping cartons at no charge. The Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors is behind the effort, and Colorado Group Realty is providing its moving truck Nov. 26 and 27.

Realtors will be at Walmart from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days to assist.

Cash donations are vital to moving the care packages to distant military bases, Hibbard said. Donations can be made online through the Community Foun­dation at — click on "Donate Now" and look for Support the Troops in the pull-down menu. To send a check, write Support the Troops in the message line.

And if you think it might be fun, you can send Steamboat snapshots directly to John Daschle for his wallpapering project. His address is:

1Lt John Daschle

184 ESC

APO AE 09355

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

Send service members the small items they crave

Wish list

■ Magazines

■ CDs and DVDs

■ Pressurized air and screen wipes for electronics

■ Hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lip balm

■ Prepaid phone cards

■ Personal hygiene items such as toothpaste to soap and razors

■ Handheld electronic games

■ Letters from children

■ Batteries

■ Winter socks

Dry, nonperishable food items

No alcohol or liquids, but …

■ Sugarless gum

■ Pancake syrup

■ Individually wrapped cookies

■ Candy, nuts and mints

■ Serving-sized packages of chips and crackers

■ Sweetened dry drink mixes

■ Flavored coffee and hot cocoa packets

■ Gourmet coffee

■ Cereal varieties

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