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Supporting the troops with Doritos

J.K. Perry
Kira Horvath/Vail DailyTami Figueroa stands in her Edwards home among the many troop care packages she filled to send to Marines in Iraq. Figueroa started sending packages in October and fills them with various items including toothpaste, sanitary wipes and snack foods.
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EDWARDS – Marine Cesar Gonzalez fights in Fallujah. Mom sends care packages.Ida Deloera wanted her son and fellow soldiers to know someone here cares, so she and friend Tami Figueroa twice collected goods and money to send to Gonzalez.”It’s hard to know he’s away for Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Deloera said. “It’s dangerous and they don’t know what’s going to happen. We want him and his troops to know Eagle County cares about them.”Lance Cpl. Gonzalez, 19, left Edwards for Iraq in September. Since then, Deloera and Figueroa have organized a drive outside Wal-Mart, where volunteers braved the cold and gathered 36 FedEx boxes worth of food, hygiene products, disposable cameras, DVDs and books.

They get whatever Gonzalez and the troops need and request.”Cesar will call me and say ‘We don’t have any Doritos’ and we’ll get them Doritos,” Deloera said.Their second drive inside City Market garnered 50 boxes.But the drives don’t come without dissenting opinions. Some people don’t agree with the war or sending the care packages in general.”One person said ‘Why should I do that? I was in Vietnam and I didn’t get a box’,” Figueroa said. “I said ‘Wouldn’t you have wanted a box?’ “

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10721 uses monetary donations to ship the boxes to Gonzalez’s unit, who divide the items among themselves. Figueroa personally decorates Gonzalez’s box with stars and packs letters and pictures inside. Deloera would do this herself, but it’s emotionally difficult.”Her son is there and I don’t think she should be doing this box,” Figueroa said.For now, Deloera and Figueroa plan to suspend the drives until after the holiday season to avoid interfering with Salvation Army bell ringing. The two intend to resume in January and continue until Gonzalez returns sometime near April.In the meantime, Deloera is asking school children to write letters to send to American soldiers.The drives support the troops, but their families have little outside support. Deloera talks to her cousin, who can relate because her own son served in the military.



Deloera wishes there were a group of other Eagle County troops’ families to congregate with and help her through rough times.”I would like to have some sort of support group I could go to once a week to say ‘How’s your son, how’s your daughter,'” Deloera said. “Am I the only one who’s supposed to think my son’s not going to make it?”Unlike other communities, Eagle County lacks a nearby military base where families support one another. Vietnam veteran Pat Hammon hopes to fill the support vacuum.”It’s a chance for them to get together and talk and act like a support group,” Hammon said. “It’s just important to have somebody to talk to who understands. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and you worry.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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