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Cards for Guards starts 10th year


Program offers help with food, clothes, school supplies

Now that the school year will soon be starting, Becky Cartier is asking Lake Oswego residents to again start thinking about Cards for Guards. by: CLIFF NEWELL - Lee Havens is eager to help her friend Becky Cartier help National Guard families by buying Cards for Guards at Safeway.

The gift card program that Cartier started in 2004 has had great success in helping many families of the Oregon National Guard obtain much needed essential items like food, clothing, gasoline and now school supplies.

“I’m so glad that what I’m doing really does help people,” Cartier said. “I wish the customers who buy the cards knew how much they have helped.”

Cartier thought she might have to struggle to re-establish the program in its 10th year because Gen. Mike Caldwell had retired as commander of the Oregon National Guard, and this made Cartier think she might have to sell her program all over again.

“It took a long time for me to convince the National Guard that I wasn’t trying to sell them something,” Cartier said.

However, Cartier’s worries vanished when Col. Dave Ferre, the new Oregon Guard commander, knew all about Cards for Guards and thanked Cartier for all she had done to help Oregon’s citizen soldiers.

“Col. Ferre was such an affirmation for me,” Cartier said. “That was what pleased me the most.”

Cartier got her inspiration for Cards for Guards from the plight of “a little mother” from Prineville who had a child who was seriously ill. Means of providing support for the family in the very isolated small town were limited.

A devout Christian, Cartier prayed about what she could do, and the answer to her prayer was the idea to start Cards for Guards.

Through the program, people can buy the cards at many popular stores, such as J.C. Penny, Safeway, Albertsons, Rite Aid, Fred Meyer, Walmart and many other stores.

The cards are used to help the neediest National Guard families in Oregon. Every Monday, Ferre and his staff go over the list to find the families needing help the most.

Cartier can find affirmation even when it is quite unexpected. Her parents, who operate a shelter to help homeless families in Salem, met a woman who was just about to move her family from the shelter to an apartment. When Cartier’s parents asked if they could provide her food, the woman said she had already received some food cards from Cards for Guards.

Gift cards can be sent to:

Dave Ferre

Oregon National Guard

P.O. Box 14350

Salem, OR 97309