Steamboat Springs When Oak Creek resident Julie Spitzley read in her high school alumni newsletter about soldiers from her hometown in Ohio being in Iraq, she decided she wanted to do something.
Because Spitzley owns Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters in Oak Creek, she figured fresh roasted coffee would be a good place to start. She has been sending the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad a 15-pound box of her coffee once a month since May.
"We wanted to help out in some way and show our appreciation for all they're doing over there," Spitzley said.
But as much as the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division enjoyed Spitzley's coffee, what they really wanted was toys and school supplies for Iraqi children.
"I'm using this as a shameless appeal for more toys for the kids. As you can see, there's more joy in the kids getting this small stuff than you can probably appreciate," Maj. Joel Hagy wrote in an e-mail to Spitzley. Hagy's e-mail included sobering pictures of soldiers handing out colorful plastic toys to gleeful Iraqi children in the middle of dusty, war-torn streets.
Hagy wrote that whenever his division stops somewhere, their vehicles are swarmed by children. He said that's when soldiers hand out the toys, and he was specific as to what the "right" kind of things to hand out should be.
"The right kind of stuff to send is very inexpensive little toys. The bigger/better the toy, the more likely the kid will be mugged and have it stolen," Hagy wrote. "It's very gratifying to make these kids a little happy in a small way for just a short time."
Spitzley is actively accepting contributions for a shipment of small toys and school supplies she will send to Iraq at the end of August. In addition to "checkout stand type" toys, she recommended contributing items such as pencils, pens, paper, erasers, chalk and pencil sharpeners.
Donations for Iraqi children can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters, next to Big Tuna's in Oak Creek, or from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Steamboat Pilates, 11th Street and Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat. Donations also can be made by appointment by calling 736-0004 or 736-0441.
Spitzley is accepting donations until Aug. 27. She said any contributions to assist with the cost of shipping would be appreciated, as well.
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