Helping the Troops

  • Share
  • Read Later
Last month TIME wrote about soldiers and Marines in Iraq requesting an unusual life-saving item in their care packages sent from home: Silly String. It seems that the neon plastic party streamers sprayed into an open doorway before a building search or across a darkened room can help detect nearly invisible trip wires attached to bombs and boobytraps. The old methods to detect trip wires — sweeping the space with a metal grappling hook or getting close enough for a visual inspection — just aren't as safe, Marines discovered.

Marcelle Shriver, an office manager and Army mom from Stratford, N.J., first advertised for Silly String donations in her church bulletin after her son called from Ramadi and mentioned how the Marine unit he was working with had passed on their tip to his combat engineers new to Iraq.

Since our item on this latest display of military ingenuity first ran, it's been picked up by everyone from Fox & Friends to Jon Stewart's Daily Show. And Shriver has been inundated with donations and cash for shipping. She's even had a private pilot volunteer his services to fly the stuff to Kuwait where it will be taken by truck to Iraq in January. (Because aerosol cans are considered hazardous materials, they're extremely expensive or impossible to ship by commercial or freight air carriers.)

Shriver told TIME today that her one-car garage is now stacked with more than a thousand cans of the stuff. She's looking for more. TIME has also received inquiries from teachers around the country whose students read the story and want to help Shriver in her Silly quest.

"You've gotten me into this mess," she wrote TIME via e-mail. "And I love it!" It will all be worthwhile, she says, if it can save one person's life.

If you'd like to send donations of money (make checks payable to Marcelle Shriver) or cans of Silly String or other items for troop care packages, the address is:

Marcelle Shriver
c/o St. Luke's Church
55 Warwick Rd.
Stratford, N.J. 08084