Beans, Bullets and Mail


An old military slogan says troops need three things to successfully wage war: beans, bullets and mail.

Last Christmas, when organizers of a campaign to send packages to troops in
Iraq asked for letters from local residents for inclusion, the Bayonne School District responded.

Dani Jean Ward, a resident who had thought up the idea as part of an effort to show support for the troops in spring 2003, said this was an amazing success.

"We've been working with Operation
Independence sending packages with about 50 goody bags a month," Ward said. "Now we're sending two packages. During the holiday season, we got help from the school district to send Christmas cards. That worked out very well thanks to Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan and others."

But now that Bayonne may become a regional hub for packages sent to the troops, Ward said she will need even more letters.


Operation Interdependence is a civilian-to-military delivery system that serves as a program for Americans to demonstrate their support.

Ward started putting together packages last spring in her
Bayonne home and then started using her father's home. With plans for a possible regional center to be located in Bayonne, the need for letters will expand. Boxes will also contain toiletries, snacks and warm wishes to the soldiers stationed overseas.

The efforts in
Bayonne have been so successful that national organizers have offered challenges to other communities to equal the efforts going on here.

Ward has been getting donated items from merchants and residents as well as money for the postage, and though she still welcomes those efforts, one of the keys to the operation is that the soldiers find a personal message of some sort from someone here.

Ward said there are currently five distribution centers throughout the
United States for this program, shipping about 50,000 bags a month.

"We're looking to open another distribution center in
Bayonne that would serve the East Coast," she said. "This means that we would be seeing about 100 boxes a month with 50 bags in each."

She said she is seeking letters for the boxes from throughout
Hudson County in order to supply all the bags with messages from people here.

"We just wanted to do something to show them we're behind them and give them a little bit of home while they are over seas," she said. "Dr. McGeehan had done a lot, but we're going to need a lot more from as many people as possible."

The goody bags that go into the packages are quart-size Zip-Lock bags that are sent to pre-designated military units with letters included in each bag. For more detailed information about packages, go on line to http://www.

People wishing to donate can send items or checks to: A.J. Ward Real Estate, 205 Broadway,
Bayonne, NJ 07002. Checks should be made payable to: Operation Interdependence.

"What we are planning for the Memorial Day weekend is a way for citizens of
Bayonne and the children to pay tribute to our troops, providing them with a means to send them a small note of appreciation that will be included in one of our goody bags," said Ward. "We will be setting up a letter writing station outside of our real estate office at 205 Broadway (between Seventh and Eighth Street) on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 2 p.m. and against on Monday, during the Memorial Day Parade (10 a.m. to noon)."

For more information call (201) 858-4338 or (201) 858-9273.

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