By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
More than 500 care packages are on their way to sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The 25 boxes - enough for more than two 200-member crews - were mailed at the Havre post office about 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Jean Smith, 61, who organized Operation Havre Love.
"All I can say is one word: fabulous," Smith said. "I had wonderful helpers."
Smith said it took her and four helpers two half-days to put together all the packets, which each include home-baked cookies, store-bought granola bars, microwave popcorn, letters from area residents and students, and a humorous informational pamphlet about Havre.
Contrary to her expectations on Monday, there were enough letters to ensure that every sailor will get a letter in their package. "When I needed extra letters, they showed up," Smith said, adding that she received letters from Havre Middle School, Havre High School, Sunnyside Intermediate School, and Box Elder School.
The work now, she said, will fall to her granddaughter, Jody Corner, 19, who is one of 5,617 sailors on the aircraft carrier. All the boxes are addressed to Jody because of a Defense Department policy that requires mail be addressed to specific individuals. "She's going to have to distribute them on the ship," Smith said. Smith said Havre Mayor Bob Rice was an integral part of the project's success.
"He worked with me 100 percent of the way on this," she said. "He even helped me put them in the back of my pickup."
Smith said Rice also helped get donations to pay for more than $450 in shipping costs. Smith had only come up with $200 of it from donations, she said.
"They told me it's all paid," she said.
Smith added that the city workers had been very helpful.
"It turned out great," Rice said this morning. "The people of Havre came through for us."
Rice said he raised about $430 by soliciting individuals and businesses in Havre, as well as members of the U.S. Border Patrol and the Havre Fire Department.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is still getting mail and communications, Smith said, so the packages should have no trouble getting there.
Smith said the project was successful, but tiring.
"Am I gonna do it again? Not for a while," she said.