Local VISTA members hope to provide some creature comforts to airmen serving in the Middle East and are seeking help from the community.

VISTA volunteers Benita Cabrera, Megan Van Gorden, Cara Brustol, Amira Long and Makenzy Williams will be collecting cookies, candy, socks, DVDs, magazines and other items for soldiers in the U.S. Air Force. The volunteers are also collecting letters and pictures from local youngsters for the soldiers, who are currently serving in Oman.

The volunteers will be at the Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturday taking donations and disseminating information about other collection points. Cabrera, who works with Del Norte Reads, said she and the other volunteers, including students at Foursquare Christian School, plan to assemble and send the packages by Sept. 11, which Congress designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009.

"My son just left his unit (in Oman) and returned home," said Cabrera. "We'd like to be able to give things that those guys would like."

Cabrera's son, Tech Sgt. Alan Cabrera, served with seven other airmen in a vehicle operations unit in Oman. She said her son and his fellow airmen are tasked with transporting planes, equipment and people. Alan Cabrera iscurrently stationed at Hurlburt Field in Florida.

Cabrera said her son gave her a list of the care package items that would be most appreciated. These include Chips Ahoy cookies, Yoohoo boxed drinks, Fruit Roll-Ups and candy, socks and Q-tips, coffee and magazines on a variety of topics including men's health, cars, hiking and guns.

"What he said was, 'Mom, whenever someone gives us care packages we all share," Cabrera said. "'Even if we get more packages than there are soldiers we share it with the building.'"

Care package items will also be collected at the Family Resource Center at 494 Pacific Ave. in Crescent City and the Del Norte Reads Office at 1080 Mason Mall, Suite 9.

VISTA was envisioned by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and started in January 1965. VISTA volunteers do a lot of behind the scenes work with AmeriCorps, Van Gorden said.

"If we were building a house, VISTA will draw up the plans and AmeriCorps will build it," she said.

The Crescent City Farmers Market starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds. For more information about VISTA, visit the Family Resource Center orwww.


Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.