DANBURY, Iowa – Ted and Dee Ann Paulsrud of Danbury had little idea what they were getting into 4 1/2 years ago.
That was 130,000 Iowa Beef Sticks ago.
“And 130,000 smiles,” Dee Ann Paulsrud is quick to mention.
The Paulsruds farm east of Danbury. During their spare time, they tout the virtues of U.S. soldiers overseas and ask anyone listening to consider giving a bit in an effort to bring a smile to a soldier halfway around the world.
Dee Ann Paulsrud had a first in this quest a week or so ago. She heard directly from a soldier working in the deserts east of Saudi Arabia.
“The man told me he ‘Googled’ Beef Sticks and an article about me came up,” Paulsrud said. “He said they were out in the desert and hungry for some Beef Sticks.”
The man wanted to give Paulsrud his credit card number to pay for a shipment.
“Oh no,” she said. “These are free!”
Paulsrud then explained the project to one shocked soldier. She collects donations from all over the country, as she’s done since 2007. Checks of $10 or $20 arrive monthly from many of the same givers. Others chip in occasionally with a larger donation.
Dee Ann Paulrsud walks around with a vacuum-pack stick of dried beef from Triple T Specialty Meats of Ackley, Iowa, the maker of this neat-to-eat Iowa delicacy. She handed a few out two weeks ago as the Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto High School students staged a play at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Sioux City.
“You have to promote your own product,” she said.
Boxes of these sticks are trucked to Sioux City for free by Fareway Food Stores of Iowa. Boxes are flown overseas – again, gratis, by the 185th Air Refueling Wing of Sioux City.
Before Paulsrud got off the phone with the soldier near Emirati Air Base, she confirmed a mailing address and sent 249 Iowa Beef Sticks his way.
“I am so happy there are people out there willing to donate their time and effort to take care of us and our great nation,” the soldier wrote Paulsrud. “I give you a ton of credit for doing what you are doing.”
Said Paulsrud, “I couldn’t say no to him.”