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AHS grad, local dentist team up to give candy to American troops
SMOKEY POINT Mary Welsh, a 2002 graduate of Arlington High School, was able to contribute to the men and women of Americas military for a third holiday season, thanks to a sweet donation from Marysville and Lake Stevens orthodontist Dr. Jason Bourne.
Bourne collects Halloween candy from area parents to prevent their children from damaging their dental appliances. After handing over more than 300 pounds of candy to Welsh last year, he gave her 750 pounds this year, for her to pass approximately 100 pounds to the United Services Organizations bed-and-breakfast unit in SeaTac Airport, and to send the rest to American troops currently overseas.
Welsh, a 23-year-old senior at Central Washington State College, submitted a Christmas wish to KOMO News two years ago, in which she extolled the virtues of the USO, whose volunteers provide servicemen and women with places to stop and rest, clean up and take a shower, log onto computers to send e-mails to friends and family members, watch television and share tuna sandwiches with fellow members of the armed forces.
Welshs Christmas wish was to give those members of the armed forces some potato chips to go with their tuna sandwiches, along with enough personal supplies of soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, disposable razors and shampoo that they could freshen up, when need be.
About 90 percent of my graduating class at AHS went into the service, Welsh said. Most of my friends from high school are in the military now.
Welsh, who works as a mentor for USO service personnel, still wants to educate the public on how the USO seeks to support the men, women and families in each of the branches of service. At the same time, she feels strongly about offering her own support to those serving in the War Against Terror, since many of the same high school friends that she mentioned are now in Iraq and places that are classified.
After staying up late to make sure all the candy is unopened and edible, Welsh is sending it out to dozens of troops overseas, in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and the Philippines, with whom shes maintained semi-regular contact, every couple of weeks and months.
These special men and women of our armed forces are there for us every day, said Welsh, who encouraged others to be there for those military members, by logging onto the USOs Adopt a Soldier Web site, at www.adoptasoldier.com. I will try to shine a little more light on the USO in Washington state. The needs of our military are close at hand and will be apparent to all that hear them. When citizens of Washington state understand the need, volunteerism will prevail.
Its fun to think of my donated candy traveling thousand of miles, Bourne said. I hope that this, in some small way, can ease the burdens of war for these soldiers. Id like to do it again next year.