This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When Linda Larsen's son, a Utah National Guardsman, was deployed in March of 2008, he says she sent him "too much stuff." It was embarrassing because he received so many more goodies than other members of his unit.
So Larsen began recruiting friends and colleagues. Soon her son's whole battalion was getting packages containing deodorant, shaving cream, toothpaste, socks and other items.
At her son's homecoming earlier this year, she received requests to do the same thing for other battalions, such as the Army Reserve 328th, a Utah-based unit.
Those were the origins of Operation Adopt a Ghost, a name derived from her son's battalion's nickname, Ghost Rider Task Force. The nonprofit group founded by Larsen has shipped hundreds of care packages totaling more than 5,000 pounds of goodies to units in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also initiated a program where folks can adopt a soldier, sending goodies directly to him or her, as well as a becoming a pen-pal.
The organization sells T-shirts and accepts donations to pay for shipping costs, which average more than $11 a package. Those interested can send items or cash donations to Larsen, who runs the program out of her house, at 1270 7th St,, Ogden, UT 84404. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com" Target="_BLANK">firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 801-668-0928.
Also, Hank Hathaway, radio personality at KDYL-AM in Salt Lake City, has taken on the cause and helps collect donations. Goods and cash can be dropped off at the KDYL studio, 3606 S. 500 West, South Salt Lake.
Speaking of donations » The Road Home needs 1,000 pairs of socks to meet the needs of the hundreds of homeless men who will stay at the shelter each night this winter.
Homeless shelter advocate Pamela Atkinson says the socks are for the exchange program at the shelter, in which men get clean socks when they come to the shelter at night in exchange for their used socks, which are cleaned and re-used if in good enough shape.
Socks can be dropped off at the Road Home, 210 S. Rio Grande in Salt Lake City.
Speaking of charity » The final amount the little soldiers of "Kid Power" delivered to the Utah Food Bank to feed low-income families this Thanksgiving: 6,140 pounds of turkeys, 920 cans of food.
This was the second year Kid Power raised money to feed the poor on Thanksgiving. Founded by 9-year-old Tia Smart, a fourth-grader at Redeemer Lutheran, the group of 5-to-10-year-olds personally delivered the fare to the food bank the day before Thanksgiving. They were able to get more for their buck because Smith's Food Stores graciously gave them a discount on turkeys for their cause. Walmart, Costco and Eggs in the City also provided support.
And more » Maurices, a fashion retailer for young women, has become a new national partner with Toys for Tots and will collect donations of toys at its SouthTowne Center location through December. The toys then will be distributed to needy families by Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Still more » The senior ladies at Brighton Gardens Assisted Living personally delivered 100 hand-knitted hats to the Road Home homeless shelter for needy families just before Thanksgiving.
A nice gesture » Gilbert Underwood, 78, works part-time for Aamco Parking on South Temple. When his wife, Esther, gave him their property tax payment to mail, he mistakenly dropped it in the mail box on 150 S. West Temple without putting stamp on it.
He explained his dilemma to the postal carrier, who patiently went through all the letters in the box until he found Underwood's about-to-be-delinquent property tax payment. The stamp was attached and the Underwoods are in good standing with Salt Lake County for another year.