Support flows in Bennedsen’s memory

A dozen boxes are on their way from Vashon to Afghanistan this week, filled with supplies for the men and women in Robert Bennedsen’s platoon.

Bennedsen, who grew up on Vashon, was a first lieutenant in the Army and was killed in action last July shortly after he was sent to Afghanistan.

It is the 11th shipment of goods Islanders have sent to support the men and women he served with, and those organizing the shipments hope to keep them up until the platoon’s deployment ends in July.

Shortly after Bennedsen arrived in the country last summer, he told family members that many of his fellow troops did not receive any support from home. When the Vashon Island Sportsmen’s Club heard that, they passed the hat, and Lauren Chinn established a fund for Island contributions.

Sadly, before any boxes were sent, Bennedsen was killed. Family and friends decided to proceed with the shipments, according to Chinn, believing Bennedsen would have wanted them to do so.

Since then, Paul and Robyn Hoffman, friends of the family, have done the bulk of the purchasing, packing and shipping to the troops still there.

“We’re happy to do it,” said Robyn Hoffman.

Every three to four weeks, the Hoffmans collect donations and send them out, usually in shipments of 10 to 12 boxes, each weighing about 15 pounds. So far, they have shipped more than 1,000 pounds of goods, including items the troops have said they want the most: jerky, peanut butter, toothpaste, lip balm, tampons, gloves, hard candy, powdered protein drink, eye drops, books, Velveeta macaroni and cheese and dried soup. At Christmas time, the Hoffmans sent extra items, including personal greetings from the children of Chatauqua Elementary School.

Recently, a friend of Bennedsen’s in Afghanistan expressed his appreciation for the support. When asked what items they appreciated most, Chinn reported, he replied, “All of them.”

Donations of cash and other items are always welcomed. Islanders can drop them off at the Bank of America and at James Hair Design.

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