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'We call them 'Love letters from home...'

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July 14, 2010 - There are angels in Ortonville. And they're excellent packers.

The Desert Angels organization, led by Louise Downs, has been collecting donations for packages sent overseas to U.S. troops. Their most recent packing party took place on Friday, July 9, at Beets, Beats, and Eats. The volunteers packed 101 boxes to be sent to soldiers.

Carole Carroll, an active participant with Desert Angels, said the donations range from food to wet wipes to pillow cases.

Any monetary donations go toward postage, which costs about $12.50 per box.

"A man told us that his grandson overseas hasn't had a shower in over four months. Think about wet wipes like that," Carroll said. "Someone donated cases of wet wipes for our most recent packing party."

Other donated items include socks, t-shirts, neck coolers, and food materials like Jell-O packs and Crystal Lite.

"It doesn't have to cost people money to fill a box," Carroll said. "Go to a garage sale or through your cupboards."

Carroll said she likes to send old magazines and newspapers.

"I tend to save the sports section and add it to a box," she said.

The primary things Desert Angels send are notes.

"We call them 'Love letters from home,'" she said. "A lot of guys don't get any mail over there, so we always try to put one or two letters in each box."

The group meet at least once a month at the Meijer in Oxford, but Downs is contacted for additional packing parties from time to time.

"In December, we had six," Carroll said.

Downs has organized a calendar on her Web site,, that keeps track of upcoming events.

Their next packing party is July 31 at Bridgewood Church, 6765 Rattalee Lake road in Clarkston.

"It's neat to come and pack boxes," Carroll said. "We're very fortunate to have these troops over there."

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