The American Red Cross of Santa Monica and the Rotary Club of Santa Monica have joined forces to “Adopt a Platoon” and cheer up servicemen and women for the holidays.

Rotarians and “Red Crossers” are adopting a platoon currently on deployment in Iraq whose members are from or have family in the Santa Monica area.

The effort is being made to help brighten up the holiday season by sending items that servicemen and servicewomen can use while on assignment.

The Santa Monica Red Cross and Rotary Club are asking residents and friends to donate and bring the following items to the chapter for packaging and shipping: New CDs and DVDs, AA batteries, Chap Sticks, beef jerky, pens and stationery, fruit roll snacks, small flashlights, vacuum-packed snacks and camping food, dental floss, disposable cameras, facial tissues, travel-size hand sanitizers, moist wipes, phone cards, playing cards and travel-size foot powder.

Personal messages and holiday greetings are also appreciated. If people can’t bring one of the designated items, monetary donations are also being accepted.

Checks should be made payable to Rotary Club of Santa Monica Foundation, Adopt a Platoon.

Contributions may be delivered to the Santa Monica Red Cross, 1450 11th St. in Santa Monica anytime between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, through November 17th.

Donors may also stop by the Red Cross office Saturday, November 18th, when the “Adopt a Platoon Drive-Thru” will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Red Cross and Rotarian youth volunteers will be on hand to personally accept donations and contributions.

All contributions must be received by the Santa Monica Red Cross no later than Saturday, November 18th, so there is time to ensure that donated gifts are packed, their contents listed per military regulations, shipped and received in time for the holidays.

“I still remember how much those holiday care packages I got from home meant to me when I was in the Army,” said John Pacheco, executive director of the Santa Monica Red Cross. “During the holiday season, being away from family and friends is particularly hard. We hope the gifts will make this holiday season a little less lonely for the young men and women who are so far from their homes.”

Adopt a Platoon is a joint venture of the Santa Monica chapter of the American Red Cross and the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, which is a member of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization.

Information, the Santa Monica Red Cross, (310) 394-3773 during weekday business hours and ask for Adopt a Platoon.

The Web sites are: www.red crossofsantamonica.com and www.rotaryclubofsantamonica .org

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