ANKENY, Iowa -- CJM Financial has teamed up with several local businesses to collect donations for the USO Center in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Partners for Kandahar includes Delta Dental, HyVee, Ankeny Chiropractic Health Center, 3M, Charter Bank, Priority Leasing, Lincoln Savings Bank, Keller Williams Realty, Everything Homes of Iowa, Designed 2 Move Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation, Modern Woodmen of America, Cafe Diem,Wig and Pen, and Main Street Cafe & Bakery.
“It started just in the office with the employees and it seem like everyone knew, like one person knew a contact at this business and just spreading the word and people became interested right away. So the support has been great,” Pam Syverson with CJM Financial said.
Pam Syverson’s niece, Rachael Syverson, is the manager at the USO in Kandahar and is from Ankeny.
Syverson said this project brought the office and the community together.
“With the recent missile launches over there, some employees came in and made the comment that, ‘I would never have even thought to look on a map to see where Afghanistan was.’ So it kind of brings it to heart and you realize, ‘Yes there are soldiers over there,’ and people like Rachael are trying to help them and make it the best while they are there,” Syverson said.
Rachael said the USO is very important to the troops in Afghanistan because it is a place where they can contact their families, play games, grab a snack, talk and even get special treats.
“So we do Operation Birthday Cake and I will make cupcakes for any troop that has a birthday that requests cupcakes or if a unit requests them to do March birthdays. We will make a bunch of cupcakes and they go nuts over those. And also chicken and waffles is a huge meal that goes over very well with the guys. We try to do that a couple times a month we will order some chicken from the cafeteria, but then we’ll make our own waffles at the center,” Rachael said.
Rachael added they make cupcakes with a can of soda and box of cake mix because they can’t get certain ingredients like eggs.
And none of what they do would be possible without donations.
“We’re just there to listen. We’re there to help in any way that we can to make their deployment life a little bit easier. And definitely these donations are a part of that. We couldn’t do it without donations from home. We couldn’t provide the free services that we do for these guys without the donations from home,” Rachael said.
Rachael said they put on a lot of fun activities at the USO.
“We just put on volley ball tournaments. We’ll do basketball tournaments, flag football, corn hole. We do 5K’s around the holidays and just other fun events. We play bingo a lot. We do art at night. We play pool and do pool tournaments and video game tournaments. We do s’mores around a bonfire. So we do a nightly program,” Rachael said.
Here is a list of items they are asking for:
- Protein bars
- Protein powder
- Pre-packaged single serve snacks like: cookies, jerky, chips, crackers, trail mix, candy, sunflower seeds, pretzels, etc.
- Coffee supplies
- Individual drink mixes
- Pancake mix
- Maple syrup
- Cake mix and frosting
- Cup O’ Noodles
- Large trash bags
- Toiletry items: toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, floss, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, shave gel, body wash, baby wipes, laundry pods, lip balm, shower shoes, travel tissue
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
- Card and board games
- Blank greeting cards
- Amazon gift cards
- Itunes gift cards
Donations can be dropped off at these locations in Ankeny:
- Ankeny Chiropractic Health Center, 1605 SE Delaware Avenue
- Café Diem, 2005 S Ankeny Boulevard
- Charter Bank, 2905 SW Oralabor Road
- Designed 2 Move Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation, 1210 NW 18th Street
- Everything Homes, 925 SE Delaware Avenue
- Keller Williams, 2325 SW State Street
- Lincoln Savings Bank, 1375 SW State Street
- Modern Woodmen of America, 201 SE Shurfine Drive, Suite 1
If you would like to give a monetary donation instead, you can make your check payable to “USO – Kandahar” and CJM Financial, 1014 SE Lorenz Drive, will forward the check to the USO.
Syverson said the donation is tax deductible and be sure to write in the Memo section of the check “Kandahar – Need Acknowledgement” and the USO will provide a receipt.
Syverson said they are trying to reach $10,000 in both monetary and item donations.