By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer
HAMILTON - After being surprised by the $1,600 bill to mail gifts and supplies to Ohio National Guard officers serving in Iraq, Jodi Reis said soldiers' families "needed to do something big."
So they're inviting everyone to a Sept. 11 family fun day - with concerts, food, cornhole tournament and other games - at the Butler County Fairgrounds.
"We're trying to help our families any way families can," said Reis, whose 23-year-old son, Donald Reis III, is among the 220 soldiers in Iraq from the Fairfield-based 216th Engineering Combat Battalion.
Over the weekend, the battalion suffered two casualties when a Humvee struck a roadside bomb, killing men from Columbus and Mount Vernon. A third soldier, Spc. Terry Dean of Hillsboro, lost part of his right leg in the blast.
All three were part of the Chillicothe company that reports to the Fairfield battalion headquarters, she said.
The Ohio contingent will end a one-year tour repairing roads, bridges and building in February, said Reis, a Fairfield Township resident and treasurer of a family support group for the 216th battalion.
The money raised will help pay for holiday packages for the troops, she says. Mailing 220 packages last spring cost $1,600, she says.
"I was just floored. I had no idea," she said. "We've got Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, and we want to make it the best for them."
For now, the family fair is scheduled from 3-7 p.m. If more people offer to provide entertainment, children's games or food, the hours will be expanded, she said.
"We've got the fairgrounds all day. We can get as big as anyone wants to help us out," she said.
Contact Reis by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone: (513) 737-7347.
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