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Hy-Vee's Chef Anthony is looking for snacks like summer sausage, peanuts, dried fruit, popped popcorn, and/or jerky and letters from Nebraska for 35 Marines he is adopting in Cherry Point, North Carolina. Those who wish to make donations of snacks can place them in this blue barrel, and those who wish to leave letters from Nebraska can leave them in the box left of the barrel in the lobby of KRGI in Grand Island. The cut-off date is Nov. 21, so the items can be packaged and arrive in North Carolina by Thanksgiving. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

The Business Coalition for Veterans hopes enough people will contribute snacks and letters to brighten the holidays for 35 Marines currently serving at Cherry Point, N.C.

Chef Anthony, who founded the Business Coalition for Veterans, is requesting letters of support for the holiday season and dry snacks for the troops. The group is accepting such snacks as jerky, summer sausage, popped popcorn, nuts and dried fruit. Those items are requested in store-bought packages.

The snacks and letters may be dropped off at radio station KRGI, 3205 W. North Front St.

You may also drop off letters to Chef Anthony at Hy-Vee. The project, called Letters from Nebraska, calls for Nebraskans to temporarily adopt the 35 Marines.

Contributions will be accepted until Nov. 21.

The care packages will be sent to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station by Thanksgiving. That way, the Marine Corps will have time to get them to the recipients by Christmas. “I am still searching for a shipping company to send the packages free of charge,” Chef Anthony said in a news release.

Travis Karr, veterans and military services director for Central Community College, dropped off a blue barrel at KRGI Friday.

One of the 35 Marine recipients will be Sheldon Means, a graduate of Northwest High School. The 21-year-old lance corporal is the son of Mark and Diane Means. He’s been a Marine for a year and a half.

Mark and Diane Means play drums and guitar in the Grand Island band Unforsaken Allies. The third member of the group, Abby Necker, plays bass guitar and sings.

Unforsaken Allies performed at an event Chef Anthony staged in December of 2017 at the Veterans Affairs hospital. Sheldon helped out at that performance shortly before he headed off to boot camp.

Rowdy’s Snack Food of McCook has donated two cases of jerky. Marines are big fans of jerky, Mark Means says.

The Marines would probably tell you they’re not deserving of the attention, and that letters and snacks should go to people who have already been deployed, the elder Means said.

But the Marines at Cherry Point “go through the same struggles of being away from home that people deployed do,” he said.

Sheldon Means is enjoying life in the Marines. But “they do get homesick, and I imagine that around the holidays that becomes more of an issue,” Mark Means said.

The Marine Corps does a good job of making sure soldiers aren’t left alone during Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mark Means said. If a group of them go home to visit, the remaining Marines share barracks “so that people aren’t alone on the holidays. That’s pretty cool,” Mark Means said.

Although most members of the battalion aren’t from Nebraska, it’s good to let them know that people care, he said.

“Just because they’re not deployed, or not deployed yet, is no reason not to acknowledge their hard work and their sacrifice,” Mark Means said.

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