Alison Mansfield, 13, of Fort Wayne, Ind., a seventh-grader at Summit Middle School and a member of the Allen County 4-H, has collected over the past two years large quantities of personal-care items, cookies, and letters of support for service members serving in Iraq and recuperating back in the U.S. She also prepared an educational display of military heroes for the Allen County 4-H Fair. It all began when Alison interviewed a soldier who had been severely injured in Iraq for a school project. "I was inspired by his bravery and dedication to his country," she said. "I believe it is important to honor those who have made sacrifices to preserve the many freedoms we enjoy."
Alison worked with several airlines and restaurants to solicit letters for servicemen and women from their customers, collected more letters through her Girl Scout troop and 4-H club, and set up a letter-gathering booth at the county 4-H fair. She asked hotels and dental supply companies to donate soap, shaving gear, sewing kits, coffee, toothpaste and brushes, lotion, and other items. Everything she collected was packaged and sent to military facilities in Iraq and to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.