Laura Lavelle: Supporting loved ones here, abroad |

Laura Lavelle: Supporting loved ones here, abroad

Tracy Haines, a fitness coach at the Curves woman’s gym located near Lake of the Pines, is asking for donations of chocolate. It’s not because of a craving, or because she feels it would improve her cardiovascular health. Tracy has some friends overseas who enjoy chocolate, and it can only be shipped to them this month, since the weather is cool and the candy will not melt in transit.

Tracy’s friends are 44 members of the 22nd PSB Army Troop in Balad, Iraq. They currently inhabit an area where the temperature begins its seasonal climb next month and will most likely reach 100 degrees by May. Tracy and other members of the LOP Curves have been collecting snacks and personal items for these soldiers since before Christmas. She began this effort last fall, after a gym member’s son, SPC Dareck Becker, headed to Iraq. Dareck’s mother is Shelly Bennett, an area resident who also is an employee of the Pleasant Ridge School District.

If you visit the gym, you can see a photograph of Curves’ adopted Army troop hanging on the wall. Tracy told me that the effort to support this group of young men and women has “snowballed” since their initial mailing.

LOP dentist David Molina donated toothpaste and 200 toothbrushes to the effort. The Combie Road Longs Drugstore gave deodorant and other items. The Higgins Lionesses voted to give Tracy $81 for postage. It was because the women at Curves collected so many donations for Shelly’s son Dareck that they decided to expand the effort to the whole group. When Dareck receives a package, he distributes the goods to all his troop members.

Curves is now a drop-off station for cash (to be used for postage) and donations of shampoo, lip balm, socks, beef jerky and other healthy snacks. Tracy’s enthusiasm for this effort is contagious, and she would appreciate help from everyone in the community so she can continue the care packages.

So far, Tracy Haines and the other women at Curves have sent 30 boxes to Iraq. She asked me to send out a challenge to other Curves gyms to initiate their own troop support programs and demonstrate to local families that the service of their loved ones is appreciated.

Tracy has not been the only one in the LOP community working for the good of all. The Parents and Teachers of Magnolia has raised many thousands of dollars to fund Project Pride, an effort to refurbish the middle school. The annual Bid n’ Boogie silent auction is the group’s main fundraiser, and has raised $48,000 over the past two years.

Improvements already funded by the PTM have been a renovation of the quad area, including a shade structure, landscaping, lunch tables and patios and walkways. Proceeds from this year’s Bid n’ Boogie will be used to purchase a school marquis, support the science lab and partially fund the sixth-grade science camp.

This year’s Bid n’ Boogie Silent Auction will take place at 6:30 p.m. on March 10 at the LOP Clubhouse. Reservations can be made at the school office or online at until next Thursday. Admission price is $40 and includes hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and a no-host bar. For questions, contact Sue Botsford at 268-2123.

Laura Lavelle lives at Lake of the Pines, and her column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at laural@the or leave a phone message with the readership editor at 477-4238.

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