SOLDOTNA (AP) -- Mayor Dave Carey wants members of the U.S. armed services in the Persian Gulf region to know his city cares about them. The Soldotna City Council is standing behind the mayor, appropriating $500 to set up a letter-writing program and buy stamps.
Carey told the council Wednesday that it's important to let America's servicemen and women know they're appreciated back home.
''It is hoped that this program will allow students from all public, private and home schools to realize the importance of civic participation and patriotism and that the adults of our community will find this activity to be an appropriate means of expressing support for those individuals responding to the call for military service,'' Carey said.
The ''Red, White and Blue Program'' will initially be funded by the city. Carey said the plan is to compile a list of active military personnel, then post that list on the city's Web site.
Students would to make a commitment for three months of weekly letter writing. Adults would write for six months. That way, Carey said, students can participate while school is in session, while adults can write for six months -- the usual length of an overseas tour of duty.
The council unanimously approved a $500 appropriation from the mayor and council fund to begin the project. Carey said he hopes other community groups will want to be involved.
Council members hailed the program as a good way to show Soldotna's support for the armed forces.
Council student representative Pehr Hartvigson said he believes young people often are unaware of the danger faced by military personnel, and the project could help educate them on the seriousness of the situation in Iraq.
''I think it's a great idea. Some (students) feel kind of a detachment from this issue. I think sometimes there's a feeling that it's someone else going to the Gulf,'' Hartvigson said. ''I don't think that's necessarily the case. ... It's even some people not much older than I am.''
Carey said he hopes to have the program up and running by the beginning of March. The program will continue as long as the situation in Iraq remains hostile.
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