Donors flood GI gift drive |

Donors flood GI gift drive

Chocolate bars. Decks of playing cards. Shampoo. Chewing gum. Razors.

The booty is gold for leathernecks, sailors, soldiers and flyboys on the war front, hungering for a taste of home.

And it sits in two giant trash cans and dozens of boxes and bags in the bowels of the Grass Valley Elks Lodge, ready to be shipped.

Those who attended Wednesday’s “Iraq: Through A Soldier’s Eyes,” a presentation of Marine Corps Col. Sean Metroka’s slides from Iraq and Kuwait, were asked to donate nonperishable food and sundries to the troops.

Mission more than accomplished. Now comes the hard part: how to transport it all.

The loot appears as if it would fill a delivery van. There’s enough food to keep military dentists busy for a while – two large Hickory Farms gift trays, packages of peanut brittle, chewing gum, toffee peanuts, beef jerky and potato chips. There’s also shampoo, razors, tiny traveling tooth-brushing kits, coffee, soap and plenty of items to pass the time between kitchen patrol and guard duty.

The piles include Mary Higgins Clark novels, Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses,” CDs featuring Garth Brooks and Kenny G, vintage National Geographic magazines, even a tiny magnetic chess set.

There’s enough to feed and entertain a family of four “for a season,” said Grass Valley Elks Lodge manager Stefano Woods.

It’s all a bit overwhelming for Metroka and for Woods, who is not sure where all this goodwill can be stored.

“American generosity has been confirmed, big time,” said Woods, a Canadian who traveled and lectured in Europe for 40 years before moving to the States 15 years ago.

Metroka, who was unaware of the magnitude of giving, was equally impressed. Those overseas will be surprised and heartwarmed, he suspected, as long as the material can be shipped somehow.

“It’s especially touching when it comes from someone you haven’t even met,” said Metroka, a Nevada City resident who spent more than six months planning military offensives for Allied forces in Kuwait and Iraq.

Another presentation of Metroka’s slides is expected to be scheduled later this month by The Union, which sponsored the show. Anyone with ideas on how to ship the material to overseas troops should contact The Union publisher Jeff Ackerman at 477-4299.

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