Supply Line Sends Comfort Items To Troops

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In 10 days, Army Spec. Chris Purtee will open a box full of black socks, candy, eye drops, gum, fruit snacks, a tiny Bible, knitted caps and other items.

Spec. Purtee is a helicopter mechanic serving in Afghanistan.

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Lud and Marian Kaftan, Butch and Kathy Klein, Teresa, Tracy and Scott Purtee of Payson Supply Line just sent out box 500 to the troops Nov. 7.

The box he opens will be the 500th Payson Supply Line has shipped.

"The Army gives soldiers what they need. We send items to make them more comfortable and it is the community's generosity that enables us to do this," Butch Klein, one of PSL's organizers, said.

Payson Supply Line is all about the troops.

Just ask Klein and fellow organizer Lud Kaftan.

They will tell you that sending boxes to the men and women serving in Iraq for the last two-and-a-half years is about the soldiers serving in the "dirt."

If PSL was on target, with the box-a-week goal they began with, in January 2005, they would have shipped 140 boxes to date, Kaftan said.

"The community's generosity enables us to do this," Klein said.

The Luke Award Committee is recognizing Klein and Kaftan for their efforts on behalf of veterans.

The committee, part of the Arizona Veterans Memorial, will honor Payson Supply Line at during their annual Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11 at the AMV Park's Sunshine Peninsula in Bullhead City.

Indeed, with 2007 not yet over, PSL has exceeded that target goal because they have shipped 220 boxes -- 109 just since Memorial Day.

Non-government issue items find their way into cardboard boxes Klein packs so tight a mouse could conceivably break its teeth on the cardboard.

Each box costs $140 to fill and ship.

PSL will only send the packages to a man or a woman (who is welcome to share the contents of the box) with a "Payson" connection.

That connection can be near, such as a son or daughter, or further, such as the friend of a sister-in-law who is serving.

"We shipped a box to an Australian soldier who fights alongside our guys," Klein said.

Items PSL can ship include: Mosquito repellent wipes, black cotton socks, disposable cameras, solid deodorants, scented shampoo and conditioner, ponytail holders, canned nuts and chips, candy (chocolate is OK during the winter), miniboxes of cereals, DVD movies (used OK), international calling cards, Chapsticks, gum, baby wipes, soap, tampons, crackers, squeeze peanut butter, canisters of drink mix, small-size fruit cups, medicated Band-Aids, AA batteries, sunblock, eyedrops, toothpaste, scented candles, note cards, raisins, magazines, puzzle books and vitamins.

Hand warmers and body warmers are other good items to send this time of year, because of the winter weather in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phyllis Harper, Barb Brandt and Arlene Potter knit hats to send to the troops.

"Field hospital personnel sometimes ask for school supplies and clothing to pass on to the children. We sent 17 boxes in early October to a field hospital in Iraq," Klein said.

"If an Iraqi goes into a field hospital for treatment, they give him clothing," Kaftan said.

"It helps get information and trust going between locals and our soldiers," Klein added.

PSL also sends Christmas decorations to personnel at field hospitals to help morale.

Crosswinds Restaurant at the airport has a drop box for PSL items.

Monetary donations to PSL are tax-deductible.

To contact Payson Supply Line, call Lud Kaftan at (928) 474-6981 or Butch Klein at (928) 978-0896.

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