Treats for Troops is in the process of gathering items to fill the Easter care packages that must be shipped by March 19 so soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan can receive them by Easter, April 4.

“Homemade cookies remain one of their favorite items, so we are emphasizing those for our Easter shipment,” said Harriett Adams, co-organizer and Treats for Troops founder. “The Student Council of Ennis High School, under the sponsorship of Mr. Jim Turney, has volunteered to help us with our cookie crusade for Easter.”

Cookies can be dropped off at First Christian Church in Ennis, Ellis County’s headquarters for Treats for Troops, from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays. First Christian is located in Ennis at 805 W. Baldridge near Clay Street. The office is at the rear of the church. The church phone is 972-875-8361.

“We are still collecting the other requested items that make life on maneuvers in the desert and mountains more bearable. Almost everyone can find them laying around their homes – fast food condiments to help make the packaged meals tastier, hotel/motel sized toiletries, paperbacks, etc.,” Adams said. “We still encourage everyone to send APO addresses for soldiers serving in harm’s way.

“We promise they will receive at least one care package each time we ship, which is four times a year: Christmas, Valentines, Easter and July 4,” she said.

Besides donations of items for the boxes, cash donations are needed as well as the cost of shipping continues to rise.

The cost to ship a 12-inch by 12-inch by 5.5-inch flat rate box is $12.50. The cost to ship an 11-inch by 8.5-inch by 5.5-inch flat rate box is $10.70.

“We welcome all clean, empty containers with airtight lids that can be packed in our boxes,” Adams said. “Coffee cans are great for protecting cookies and all baked goods during shipment.”

Several donation boxes have been set up at locations around the Ennis community for donors’ convenience in dropping off items: Lone Star Fitness, Ennis State Bank, Prosperity Bank, Firehouse Grill, Ennis High School (Student Council), Ennis First Christian Church and Young, Johnson and Hines law firm.

The deadline to drop off items is Tuesday, March 16, for the next shipment. Boxes will be packed Wednesday, March 17, and shipped March 18-19.

Soldiers are grateful to receive items on the following list that they can place into their backpacks, Adams said.

• Toiletries in small travel sizes: individual bars of soap in Ziploc bags; small package of disposable razors; shaving cream; toothbrushes, toothpaste; lip balm, tubes of sun screen; deodorant; Tylenol, Advil; baby wipes; hand cream, moisturizer; shampoo, conditioner; eye drops, instant tears.

• Snack and food items (no pork, no soft candy, no chocolate candy): canned meat; sealed beef jerky; canned chips, salty snacks like peanuts; homemade cookies; condiment packages from fast food restaurants; hard candy; Little Debbie cakes and brownies; packaged snack crackers; packaged tuna or chicken meals; individual packets of Crystal Light, Lipton tea or Propel.

• Plastic Ziploc bags: used for everything to keep sweat and sand from destroying what soldiers carry in their pockets, such as family photos.

• Fun items for backpacks: crossword and sudoku puzzles; nerf footballs; writing pads, pens (stamps are not needed); greeting cards for soldiers to send; paperbacks of westerns and mysteries (no war stories); magazines; devotionals; handheld electronic games with batteries; AA and AAA batteries.

• Hand-written notes and letters of encouragement.

• Small 13-ounce, clean coffee cans with airtight lids.

Adams asked that any donors go by the following general guidelines in making a donation of items to Treats for Troops.

Put any items that can leak into plastic Ziploc bags, such as condiments and toiletries. Put travel-size bars of soap into Ziploc bags so food doesn’t taste soapy. Small sizes are best so a large variety can be sent and remain lightweight in backpacks. Crushable food items are packed in containers with lids (clean and empty coffee cans and plastic tubs) by church members.

For more information, call First Christian Church in Ennis at 972-875-8361.