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Yellow Ribbon continues, as troops leave Afghanistan

by Ben Clarke

As of Wednesday the Canadian Military has officially pulled out of Afghanistan, but for many of the soldiers who have returned home it will be a long road back to the lives they once led.

Buckhorn resident Darlene Loucks and the many volunteers who have donated their time or money to the Yellow Ribbon Campaign want these soldiers to know they are not alone.

Co-founders Loucks and Kathy Bulger of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign’s Buckhorn chapter, and countless donors and volunteers have been sending care packages to Canadian soldiers for the past eight years.

In total, the Yellow Ribbon Campaign’s Buckhorn chapter managed to send 1,113 boxes since its inception.

While there won’t be a need to continue to send the care packages, Loucks says this doesn’t mean the soldiers who returned should be forgotten.

“It’s bittersweet for me,” said Loucks. “It’s been a journey.”

The Yellow Ribbon Campaign promotes military awareness across the country, and is neither pro- nor anti-war, nor is it a political statement. It is a simple way to show support for those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve Canada and its freedom.

Loucks became involved in the organization after her niece served over in Bosnia during a peacekeeping mission.

“When she came home she raved about how jealous the others were about the care packages she had received,” said Loucks.

“After she met her husband he was deployed in 2006 and it ended up his entire platoon was injured. Knowing how appreciated those other boxes were that I sent to Bosnia I knew I had to send these guys something. In November (of that year) I ended up sending over 40 boxes.

The boxes contained everything from hygiene products to chocolate bars and everything in between. The boxes would continue to grow in quantity, as Loucks continued to seek out soldiers in need. It was at that time that she would get a helping hand from Kathy Bulger, whose son Nicholas served oversees.

Corporal Nicholas Bulger was 30 years old when he was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) on July 3, 2009.

“We were sending out boxes to Nick when we realized we didn’t want to continue to beg people for donations, so it was about that time that the Yellow Ribbon Campaign began,” said Loucks.

“We took ten cans around to businesses in Buckhorn and after Nick passed the donations really started to come in because people really wanted to help out.”

While donations to purchase care package items are no longer needed, Loucks continues to keep in touch with a handful of soldiers from the area.

“I have been trying to find some of our local soldiers and so far I have been in touch with three,” said Loucks.

“What I am trying to do is introduce them to each other so they have some camaraderie. Between the Legion and the Yellow Ribbon Campaign we want to help these people because we still care and they haven’t been forgotten.

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