By Stephanie Beach
---- — Hundreds of area service men and women will receive a care package from home thanks to the recent Patriot Game. The game was "folded" into the annual Central High School and West Senior High football game as a way to show players and students that generations have long struggled to support the freedom often taken for granted. It opened with a tribute to veterans and to 13 northern Michigan men who were killed during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sale of almost 4,000 commemorative T-shirts netted nearly $9,000 for the Traverse City chapter of Operation American Soldier, a nonprofit organization that collects and ships "comfort items" to active-duty service men and women. The local chapter is fund raising to send each current northern Michigan soldier a Christmas package. Some of the cost of printing the T-shirts was offset by Bill Marsh Auto, Fox Motors, Williams Auto and Traverse Motors/Cherry Capital Cadillac.
"I was blown away by the results," said Operation American Soldier Director Christine Stalsonburg. "I thought if we were able to collect a couple thousand dollars this would be a huge success. Then I saw how this community came together in such a short period of time. We saw so many shirts around town. People showed how much they appreciate the sacrifice made by our service people and their families."
Organizers say they hope to make the Patriot Game an annual event, with the money raised going to help veteran organizations and to construct a memorial they hope will be placed at Thirlby Field.
The future gardeners at the Grand Traverse Area Children's Garden have completed a summer of planting, caring for and harvesting produce from seeds they planted in the spring.
The season started with a successful plant sale fundraiser. Businesses and area residents who helped make the planting season possible were: Keystone Perennials, Misty Ridge Herb Farm, Garden Goods, Blue Star Landscaping, Terra Bella Landscaping, Eden Hill Nursery, Skegemog Gardens, Traverse Outdoors, a nursery on Three Mile Road, McGough's, TBA Agriculture Center, Pine Hill Nursery, Wildflowers, Zimmerman Landscaping, Oryana Natural Foods Market, Dobias Landscaping, Barker Creek Nursery, Breeze Hill Nursery, Weaver's House of Plants, Woodland Shores, Hall's Nursery, Lowe's, Cathy Hamilton, Sophia Bradley, Chris Noga, Avenue B Garden, and Joanne and Brian Ewing.
An awards program closed the season and included a presentation by Raven Hill Discovery Center and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Sponsors included: Traverse City State Bank employees, Meijer, Dan and Peg Jonkhoff, Ian McIntyre, Becky Gagnon, Fox Motors, The Filling Station Microbrewing, Holly Thompson, the Hathaway Lambs, Marc Aschew Sound Systems, Mike Powers, and Bill Nall of Dino's Pizza.