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Got golf balls?

Marisa Ostendorf of Alexandria is taking the lead in collecting golf balls to send to U.S. troops serving in the Middle East. Many of the golf balls were brought in during a golf ball collection drive and indoor putting event last Saturday at Geneva Golf Club. Photo by Amy Chaffins.1 / 2
Dennis Anhalt of KXRA Radio putts on the indoor green at Geneva Golf Club. The green was set up to promote golf ball donations for soldiers. Photo by Amy Chaffins.2 / 2

A simple e-mail request has produced an outpouring of local generosity.

Marisa Ostendorf of Alexandria picked up on a particular request made by U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East - please send golf balls.

While serving in the desert, many soldiers spend their free time hitting golf balls.

Ostendorf heard about the golf ball request from her friend, Angie Heidelberger, whose husband, Ryan, is currently serving in the Middle East; he's a member of the Red Bulls unit based in Albert Lea. The Heidelbergers are Alexandria natives.

Ostendorf said, "I contacted Dennis and after he mentioned it on the radio, people have overwhelmingly donated tons of golf balls."

KXRA radio host Dennis Anhalt received Ostendorf's e-mail and put out the call for golf balls during last Friday's morning show.

Off to great start

On Saturday, Anhalt and Ostendorf coordinated a drop-off and indoor putting event at Geneva Golf Club.

Through the afternoon, buckets, bags and boxes of golf balls piled up as people stopped by to donate and do some putting.

As the donations came in, Anhalt told the Echo Press, "People in the golf community are generous and want to contribute to the enjoyment and recreation of the troops. We all have boxes and boxes of golf balls in our garage or closet. If those golf balls bring some joy to a soldier, that's great."

They're off to a great start, but there's always need for more.

Anhalt and Ostendorf are asking the community to continue donating golf balls for the troops.

Golf ball donations can be dropped off at the KXRA studio at 1312 Broadway in Alexandria during business hours.

"Bury me in golf balls," Anhalt said, challenging the community to donate more golf balls.

Other items like granola bars, sudoku puzzles or home-baked goods will also be accepted to tuck into the boxes with the golf balls.

Monetary donations for things like shipping will also be accepted. Checks can be made out to Marisa Ostendorf.

"With any extra money that we get, we are looking at getting the soldiers Visa gift cards so that they can purchase items online and send gifts or flowers to their wives, children or family," Ostendorf added.

Golf balls on the way

On Sunday, 20 boxes were filled with golf balls and other treats readied for shipping to soldiers.

Fellow golf ball collection coordinators Linda Heidelberger and Carol Osterman, both of Alexandria, were there for the packing event too.

Ostendorf's children, Dylan and Lily, also helped pack boxes; they wrote messages on the golf balls for the soldiers to read before they tee off.

"[The soldiers] are making a huge sacrifice and people like Ryan are really the true heroes in all of this," Ostendorf said. "When I told his wife what we were doing with the golf ball collecting, she was both overwhelmed and overjoyed. She was choking back tears."

Ryan's unit is expected to return in May.

Follow Amy Chaffins on Twitter at @TheOsakisReview.

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Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133