VING to collect donations for care packages at Agrifest

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ST. CROIX - The V.I. National Guard will collect donations for deployed soldier care packages at Agrifest 2014 on Saturday.

The Agriculture and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands - with its abundance of local specialties and food items - is an ideal spot for the Deployed Soldier Care Package Drive, said Master Sgt. Karen Williams, V.I. National Guard spokeswoman.

"What a wonderful venue to get all those great local treats," she said.

The drive is aimed at showing the community support for its deployed military personnel, according to the National Guard.

On Saturday at the fair, the V.I. National Guard State Family Program Office will conduct the drive. Volunteers will gather non-perishable local treats and money donations to be used for mailing the boxes.

Williams said that the V.I. National Guard currently has eight soldiers deployed at various missions overseas, in the continental United States and rehabilitating at medical treatment facilities.

She said that receiving care packages can be an emotional boost for deployed soldiers, and noted that she felt that way when she was deployed in the 1990s and received care packages.

"Believe me, it was a delight to your heart," she said.

Donations for the care package drive will be accepted Saturday at two locations at the Ag Fair: at the V.I. National Guard Recruiting and Retention tent located near the bridge by the Food Pavilion, and by "The Olde Shoppe" replica building near the oven.

The treats are used by Guard members to share V.I. culture and traditions with other military personnel.

Non-perishable items that are appropriate for the care packages can include - but are not limited to - stew tamarind, tamarind balls, local candy, stew gooseberry, sugar cake, sugar cookies, stew mango, tarts, black cake and CDs of local music.

Those unable to attend the Ag Fair who would like to donate to the V.I. National Guard Deployed Soldier Care Package Drive can contact the State Family Program Office at 712-8022, 712-8021 or 712-8012.

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