A Carson City woman hopes a dinner Thursday night will find pen pals and generate support for 500 soldiers from a Mississippi Army National Guard unit deployed to Iraq.
P.J. Degross' Web of Support Soldier Adoption Event will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Red's Old 395 with the admission fee being a DVD, CD, book or other item that can be put into a care package for a deployed soldier with the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion.
She was introduced to the unit after she "adopted," Sgt. Chris Missick, whose Internet blog on the daily life of a soldier in Iraq garnered national attention. Missick recently began law school after finishing a tour of the country, which he kicked off July 17 in Carson City. The goal of Missick's tour was to visit the strangers across the United States who reached out to him and his unit during his deployment.
Through Missick, Degross said, she learned about the fate of Sgt. First Class Norris Galatas who was severely injured in Iraq in April.
Degross said when she called and asked Galatas what she could do for him as he recovered at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the troop leader for the 150th told her he had what he needed.
"But could you take care of my guys who are back in Iraq?" She recalled him asking. "And I said, 'OK, I'll do it.'"
The Adopt-a-Soldier Program aims to match individuals, families and businesses in Carson City with soldiers from the 150th Combat Battalion. It encourages support to deployed soldiers through letters and care packages through the term of their deployment.
So far, Degross said, 38 soldiers have been adopted by Liaison Salon and Spa, Dr. Lee Van Eppf, Dr. Vincent Christiansen, Sierra Hearth and Home and Dr. Gerald Cottrell, among others.
"Everyone who has taken on a soldier has agreed they will nurture the relationship beyond just sending packages," she said. "The feedback that I have gotten has been amazing from soldiers."
Degross said she is willing to expand the operation to include anyone serving in Iraq.
"I'll just put them on the list and pray for people like Dr. Van Eppf who took five at a clip," she said.
Red's Old 395 is donating the food and karaoke. In addition to searching for adoptive parents, Degross will also accept donations to ship additional care packages on top of the handful she sends out every month.
"I love doing this. I have to tell you, people in Carson City are amazingly generous," she said.
-- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
What: Web of Support Soldier Adoption Event
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Red's Old 395 Grill, 1055 S. Carson St.
Cost: DVD, CD or other item to be put into a care package.