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RAF MILDENHALL — When Staff Sgt. Jessica Lara lost a good friend in Iraq, she wondered how she could help troops wounded in combat.

In December, she came across a newspaper article about the Fisher House Foundation, which offers accommodation to families of wounded troops as they visit them at military hospitals. With this charitable organization in mind, Lara initiated a donation drive through Mildenhall’s noncommissioned officer club that would benefit the Fisher Houses at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

The drive is scheduled to take place at the BXtra from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday through Monday.

“Once I read that article in Stars and Stripes, I tried to put everything together. Now, it’s finally coming together as this wounded soldier project. It means a great deal to me,” Lara said.

Donations needed for the drive are basic cleaning supplies, paper or plastic dinnerware, and printer cartridges, among other various items to supply the two Landstuhl houses, which have a capacity of about six families each, Lara said.

Lara and the other volunteers also are looking for soft toothbrushes, travel-size toothpaste, toenail clippers, fleece throw blankets, DVD movies and long-sleeved shirts with no logos to be donated to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project that also benefits military hospitals in Iraq, she said.

“These dedicated volunteers are proving their active role within our extended family unit is alive and well,” Karen Grimord, LHCP founder, said about the Mildenhall NCO club.

Assisting hospitals downrange was one of the reasons that Tech. Sgt. Rose Elliott, also a member of Mildenhall’s NCO club, liked the donation drive idea. She recently returned from a deployment to Iraq, where she worked at the Balad military hospital.

“I had the opportunity to volunteer at the hospital out there and see the wounded soldiers and their limited supplies. It kind of makes you want to give more,” she said.

The donated items will be transported to Germany by a KC-135 Stratotanker scheduled to depart in April, but Elliott said that doesn’t mean it will be the end of the donation drive.

“It’s an ongoing project,” she said.

Anyone interested in a list of specific items needed can e-mail Lara at jessica.paone@mildenhall.af.mil or call 238-8822. For more information on the hospital care project, check out http://www.landstuhlhospitalcareproject.org.

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