- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BRITT, Iowa (AP) - A northern Iowa veterans group is assembling care packages for sailors on the USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan on June 17, killing seven U.S. sailors.

Nine members of the Dean Welsh Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary of Britt are working on the project, The Mason City Globe Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/2sd0Y2X ).

“Somebody’s gotta help them out,” said Jean Perkins, the chairman of the care packages drive.

The drive was inspired by Perkin’s 27-year-old granddaughter, Brianna Downer, who is serving in the Navy as a gunner’s mate on a guided missile destroyer while at sea.

“It’s hitting pretty close to home, it could have been her out there,” Perkins said.

Downer asked Perkins last week if the group could do anything for the sailors. The group sent about 50 care packages to Downer’s crew in 2012. They hope to send about the same amount of packages to the crew of the Fitzgerald.

“I’m sure a lot of belongings were destroyed,” Perkins said. “They need some moral support.”

The care packages will include toiletries, books, magazines, socks, T-shirts, snacks, hard candy and non-perishable items. Cards and children’s drawings are also welcome because they can bring a smile to a sailor’s face, Perkins said.

“Hopefully we can get some money donations as well to help pay shipping to buy what we don’t get in donations,” Perkins said. “The boxes will be about $17.50 each to mail.”

The group is already receiving donations.

“I know there’s organizations that do things but we want to get on the ball now,” Perkins said.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/


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