Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Thousands of cans of Silly String sent to US troops in Iraq


After months of frustration, a mother of a soldier in Iraq has found someone to ship about 80,000 cans of Silly String to the troops, who use the foamy substance to detect trip wires on bombs.

"I am so happy right now, I am shaking. I just think it's awesome that it's finally going," Marcelle Shriver said as boxes of the toys were loaded into a truck on Monday afternoon.

The thousands of cans of Silly String are boxed and addressed to individual servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq. But since the string comes in an aerosol can, it is considered a hazardous material and only certain companies can ship it.

Thom Campbell, one of the founders of Capacity LLC, a New Jersey-based shipping company experienced in hazardous materials, heard about Shriver's problem and decided to help out.

Shriver and Campbell communicated for weeks by telephone and e-mail but met for the first time on Monday when the boxes were picked up. Each praised the other for making the shipment a reality.

"The determination that she's shown over a year ... deserves to be honored," Campbell said. "Mine is not a glamorous industry nor is it the kind of industry [where] you get a lot of opportunities to do something like this."

Shriver had been storing the boxes in this community across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. They will be inspected by the company and then delivered to the US Postal Service for transport with other letters and packages bound for Iraq.

Shriver's Silly String campaign began late last year after her son, Todd, a soldier in Ramadi slated to leave Iraq in November, asked his parents to send cans of the product.

Soldiers can shoot the substance, which travels 3m to 4m, across a room before entering. If it hangs in the air, it indicates a possible trip wire attached to a mine.

US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver said recently that Shriver's efforts were appreciated, but that commanders decide which items troops need, adding that the spray was used heavily in the early stages of the conflict but is not as widely needed today.

"If commanders on the ground are screaming that we need this stuff, we'll get it to them," he said.

Shriver, 58, got one shipment of 40,000 cans out in January through the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Pennsylvania, but officials told Shriver they did not know when they would have more flights headed to Iraq and did not have space to store the boxes. McGuire Air Force Base declined to take the shipment.

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