Recent visitors at the Hank and Toni Cooper home were their son, Sgt. Corey Jon Cooper, his wife, Malinda, and their daughter, Zoya Roze, 1. Corey recently returned from a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq for the U.S. Army. He is stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash. This was his second tour in Iraq in three years. While he was gone, his parents became experts in supporting their special soldier. Toni said, "There's only so much parents can do. So I decided I would write him a letter every Monday, send him a package every Friday, and then leave the rest to the Lord."
Toni became a pro in ways to support her son, who sometimes was in harm's way. She began by sending him homemade cookies, games, socks, toothpaste, and the usual toiletries. She embellished his package by stuffing it with anything she could imagine to brighten his situation and remind him of home. She sent candles, nuts, jerky, easy-open bags of chicken, baby wipes, DVDs, newspaper clippings, silly putty, batteries, games, fruit leather, bandannas and squirt guns to name a few. "Everything from jelly beans to whatever, things that he could decorate with or give away," she said.
For the Fourth of July, she sent a little flag and a box of Alaska soil for him to smell.
"So he could remember that he would soon be home to the state and country he loves," she said.
Postage was very expensive at first, then she discovered flat-rate boxes at the post office that cut that expense considerably.
"It's amazing what all you can stuff into one of those boxes," she said.
It took about a week to 10 days for a package to reach him, actually sooner than the letters did.
Corey appreciated it all. He said that when he was having the worst times, he could always depend on getting that box from home to make things better. Mail from home meant that people were thinking about him, and he that meant a lot. He was amazed when an entire case of Arby's Sauce in little packets arrived for him.
Corey plans to finish up his 10-year career in the military in August. While in Kenai, he showed his wife and daughter the high points of his hometown and enjoyed some of mom's home cooking, which included moose strips on rice.
Thanks, Corey, for all you did to protect us. Thanks to Malinda for keeping the home fires burning, and thanks to Toni, who could certainly instruct anyone interested in the finer points of the care and feeding of our troops, one soldier at a time.
Today is the deadline for nominations for homes or businesses with the most festive holiday dcor for the Holiday decorating contest. Call the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at 283-1991.
Friday at noon is the Kenai Senior Center Christmas Party. You'll find caroling, egg nog, a gift exchange, entertainment, and a lot of Christmas cheer.
Happy anniversary Dec. 19 to John and Sharon Williams.
Other Kenai news
Dunns have a boy
Elizabeth Hamre Dunn and Nathan Dunn of Salem, Ore., announce the birth of their son, Jonathan James Dunn, Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. He weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces.
He join sisters Ingrid, 5, and Gretchen, 3. His grandparents are Jim and Terry Dunn of Kenai and Mark and Lavonne Hamre of Vancouver, Wash.
Resource directory available
The LeeShore Center's community directory of central Kenai Peninsula resources is available for $25 with a three-ring binder or $15 for refill pages only. The directory lists more than 80 pages of information on emergency services, family support agencies, health facilities, senior citizens services and veteran's organizations.
For more information, call 283-9479.
KCHS hockey memorabilia sought
On Thursday, Kenai Central High School will celebrate 30 years of hockey during the Kenai-Soldotna High School varsity hockey game.
Attending alumni will receive free admission, limited edition hat and group photo taken between periods one and two. Alumni also will be honored at a reception prior to the game starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Soldotna Sports Center conference room.
Hockey photos from the past 30 years may be dropped off at Wells Fargo Bank, Kenai Branch, attention: Junie or e-mailed to email@example.com.
For more information, call Kathy at 283-3403.
Women's basketball league forming
The Boys and Girl Club is taking registrations for Women's City League basketball. The deadline to register is Friday. The cost is $250 per team and $50 per player. The season runs January to March. Packets are available at the Kenai Recreation Center.
For more information, call 283-3855.
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