News about soldiers in Afghanistan may not be at the forefront of people's minds these days, but not so in Malibu, where dozens gathered this week to prepare packages for the troops overseas.
"I like to help with the packing for the troops because the military is very dear to me," said Rosemarie Ihde, a longtime Malibu resident. "Every strong country needs a strong military to protect us."
She held up a baggie, which she had filled with a note, beef jerky and chewing gum. The items, including razors, toothbrushes and other hygienic necessities, were laid out in boxes on long tables for volunteers to pack at the Point Dume Clubhouse on Heathercliff Road in Malibu.
"Sometimes the soldiers give it to the local kids," she said, justifying her choice of a small, cuddly stuffed animal.
According to organizer Cindy Linke of the Malibu/Bel Air Republican Women Federated, the packing effort was the result of volunteers across Malibu and West Los Angeles.
Children from schools in Malibu and Manhattan Beach wrote letters to the troops, which were included in the packages. Whatever items were not donated, were purchased with raised funds.
More than 2,000 packages will be sent out in 40 boxes, and an additional 300 will be delivered to the crew of the USS John Paul Jones.
Susanne Reyto, president of the Malibu/Bel Air Republican Women Federated, said there were familiar and new faces that turned up to help out on Tuesday.
"This is our duty to do this here, our loyalty oath to the military all over the world who are saving us and our freedom and protecting our country. This is a small token of our appreciation," Reyto said.
Lance Corp. Kazimir Klossowski, who is in the Marine Reserve out of Seal Beach, said he came out to show support.
"I haven't been deployed yet myself. Even from just going on our little field operations, I know how important it is to have these hygiene things and snacks, and stuff like that just to keep your morale up," he said.
Craig Sap, superintendent for California State Parks Angeles District, said he came out to help his "brothers in arms."
"I got a very complex job weighing the boxes and making sure they are 30 pounds exactly," Sap said, adding that they have to be below that weight because of custom regulations.
The packages will be shipped off later this week and will likely go to troops in Afghanistan.