The Military Care Package Drive is officially underway.

Now in its 16th year, the drive is collecting necessities for men and women deployed overseas now through Oct. 15.

Dianne Tebbetts, organizer and coordinator of the fund drive, has been the organizer since 2011 when ex-husband Ralph Tebbetts moved out of the area. Ralph Tebbetts had run the drive since 2004.

A veteran herself — Dianne Tebbetts was an administrative clerk in the Air Force — she said she would be happy to take on the project.

“I am a veteran as well. When he moved to Georgia, he asked me if there was any way I could continue this,” Tebbetts said. “I said, ‘By all means, as long as I am physically capable,’” Dianne said. “I understand how much this means to them — the men and women overseas … I have a soft spot in my heart for them. To me, it’s just extremely important because some of these packages they receive may be the only package they get while they’re gone.”

Tebbetts said 177 men and 23 women total will be receiving a care package this year.

“The number one item they’re requesting is beef jerky,” she said.

Chocolate, aerosol cans and large canned goods are a few items that cannot be sent overseas. However, they can accept hard candy, cheese, crackers, socks, pencils, notebook paper, puzzles, books and toiletries.

Just about anything anyone can think of, Tebbetts said.

Donations can be dropped off at:

Goods Cash Saver, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., 2703 US-50.

Graves Drugs, 8:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, 609 Commercial St.

Mark II Lumber, 7 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturday, 825 E 6th Ave.

Mel’s Tire, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - noon on Saturday, 915 Graham St.

Reebles Country Mart, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., 1020 Merchant St.

VFW Post No. 1980, 2 p.m. - 9 p.m., 932 Graphic Arts Rd.

Raffle tickets are also available for purchase for a chance to win a quilt. Tebbetts purchased the quilt at an auction several years ago.

She applied to participate in Match Day 2020, but was one of the applications that did not get in. Then, she planned to have the quilt on display at the 2020 Great American Market hosted by Emporia Main Street, but that event was canceled among others due to the ongoing novel coronavirus.

“[The quilt] is currently on display as of this morning [Sept. 8] at Lyon County State Bank [on Merchant Street] and it will be there for two weeks,” she said.

The quilt will be on display until Sept. 18. Then, she will move the quilt to Clint Bowyer Autoplex, the drive’s sponsor, to display from Sept. 21 - Oct. 2.

From there, the quilt will be on display from Oct. 5 - Oct. 16 at Twin Rivers Winery, 627 Commercial St.

“Individuals can go in and purchase raffle tickets if they wish,” she said. “They’re $1 a piece or $6 for five [tickets]. All money raised goes to defray the cost of postage.”

Patrons can also contact Tebbetts to do direct monetary donations. She is willing to work with people.

“I want to emphasize how important it is that we, as a community, let the men and women overseas know that we are thinking of them,” Tebbetts said. “That we haven’t forgotten about them, that they are important not only to our community — but to our nation.”

Contact Dianne Tebbetts at 620-757-1390 for more information. Volunteers can help package the donations at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17 at VFW Post No. 1980, 932 Graphic Arts Rd.

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