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09-079 Flood Feature: Area Organizations Donate to Activated National Guard Members

FARGO, N.D. -- Organizations in the area have gone above and beyond the call of duty recently to support the National Guard's flood-fighting efforts against the Red River here.

Countless cases of food and drink were brought into the Armed Forces Reserve Center, the 119th Fighter Wing and quick reaction forces staging areas around town, not to mention the outpouring of support that residents gave to service members patrolling the dike system in the area.

JoAnn Czerwinski, Family Assistance Center specialist in Fargo, said dozens of businesses and churches offered support.

"Especially the first few days when the kitchen wasn't going and local restaurants donated hot food," she said. "The businesses were a godsend, especially in those first days."

Family Readiness Support Assistant Dave Seifert said many organizations called back and asked if they could do more.

He said during the time of the initial Red River crest, many businesses were unable to deliver items because of flooding conditions around town, but still wanted to help.

"We made quite a few trips out to collect donations," Seifert said. "We took the seats out of vans and got so many donations that when we opened the van doors back at the Reserve Center stuff came pouring out."

At the beginning of the flood-fighting operations, most efforts of activated Soldiers and Airmen were focused on sandbag-filling, dike patrols and quick reaction forces. As time went on, more service members were activated requiring a staff to feed the force. Soon, the kitchen at the Armed Forces Reserve Center was opened.

"Once the kitchen was set up there was a sense of relief," Seifert said. "After that we moved from providing sustenance to providing comfort."

Throughout it all, organizations and individuals donated food, drinks, movies and games to keep military members nourished for their duties and entertained in their off time.

Seifert said collecting and organizing all of the donations was a learning experience, and they had given information to their counterparts in Grand Forks so they would be able to hit the ground running without having to experience the initial challenges the Fargo volunteers faced.

In addition to the information, leftover donations were sent to Grand Forks this past week for the service members that have been temporarily stationed there.

He said that through it all, the organizations' efforts were well-received by the service members.

"They're very appreciative, very thankful," Seifert said of the Soldiers and Airmen.

As North Dakota Guardsmen continue to monitor potential flood situations across the state, organizations have not slowed their contributions. Recently, 250,000 energy bars were delivered to the Armed Forces Reserve Center to be shared with Guardsmen on duty, Guard Families, evacuees and other volunteers. Additionally, 1,800 pounds of protein powder and crates full of comfort items such as Advil and Chapstick are available for distribution to Soldiers and Airmen.
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Since the terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 2,800 Soldiers and more than 1,600 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. More than 3,000 National Guardsmen remain in North Dakota and are available to provide support for state and national emergencies and homeland defense.

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