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Sending goodwill

Volunteers fill boxes that will be sent to soldiers in war zones. The Rosemount chapter of Operation Minnesota Nice sends monthly care packages to 13 soldiers.

Michael Young, Amanda Woodruff and Danny Wu probably don't know anyone in Rosemount, but people here care about them.

The three soldiers are all serving in war zones and have been adopted by Operation Minnesota Nice to receive care packages.

Young, Woodruff and Wu have been adopted by members, of Rosemount's chapter, along with 10 other soldiers. Each month the chapter sends comfort and love to deployed soldiers all over the world.

The packages contain a wide variety of items, including practical stuff like eye drops, wet wipes, and sunscreen. The group makes sure they get some goodies such as candy, playing cards, fruit snacks and beef jerky.

The group meets monthly at the Rosemount American Legion to put together the packages. Each member of the group brings an item to put into each of the 13 boxes. They can put additional items in their own soldier's box if they want to. Each box also contains a letter to the soldier.

After the box is filled, the members are then responsible for shipping their soldier's box.

Each member of the group has adopted one soldier, except for group leader Diane Tapper, who sends boxes two soldiers.

"They are over there fighting for their lives. Through this you know you're doing good for someone. This is something I feel I need to do," said Tapper.

That feeling of obligation is shared by others in the group. James McCann, a former Army soldier, adopted a soldier as soon as the chapter started in Rosemount earlier this year. McCann said he was looking for a way to give back. He knew he wanted to work with veterans or soldiers. Operation Minnesota Nice, he said, has been an easy way to support the troops.

"I bring stuff I think I would have like to have gotten," said McCann at a meeting Aug. 11.

Tapper said the soldiers who receive packages are picked by their commanding officers because they don't get a lot of mail from home. The idea is to make sure these soldiers feel the support from the United States.

And they do. Specialist Katie Dornac, a member of the 34th MP Company in Stillwater, received packages during her year-long deployment in Iraq and said she appreciated the effort.

"Any letter is better than no letter," said Dornac. "Even if it's from a stranger."

Dornac said she kept a picture of the family who sent to her in her locker.

While they don't expect to hear anything back from the soldiers they send to, Tapper said sometimes they do. She was contacted by one of the first soldiers she sent to through Facebook. She said the young man was grateful and so was his mother.

"It's nice to hear from them but we certainly don't expect it," said Tapper.

Operation Minnesota Nice was started by Denise Jorgensen. She was sending packages to a friend's son who was serving in Iraq. The soldier was appreciative of the packages and said he was sharing with other soldiers who didn't get anything.

According to the group's web site Jorgensen asked for their names and started sending them stuff monthly. Friends and family offered to do the same, and from there it took off. There are now more than 50 packing groups in Minnesota.

The Rosemount chapter of Operation Minnesota Nice meets at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at the American Legion. Anyone who wants to join can attend a meeting or register on the web site at The group also will take donations.

For more information call Diane Tapper at 612-805-6058 or email

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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