Turning pens for troops: 'He still has the pen'

EUGENE, Ore. -- For the men and women serving in the armed forces, hearing from friends and loved ones can lift their spirits while they are stationed overseas. One local business spent Saturday and Sunday carving wooden pens for active troops, helping them write home more often.

Mary Mackey spent her Veterans Day weekend at Woodcraft's "Turning for the Troops" event. She sent a pen to her stepson Jason while he was on tour in Iraq, and said he used it to write home frequently.

"He wasn't a big writer, but he still has the pen." Mary said.

While Jason has already returned home from Iraq, Mackey still spent her time turning pens, or carving wooden pens on a lathe, in the hopes that more troops will stay connected with their families.

"You don't realize how much tension is there until they do get home, step off of the plane." said Mackey.

Some boy scouts dedicated their Saturday to turning wood into writing instruments. Braiden Miller and his brother Griffin said that working on the lathes was easy. They said that the hardest part was finding just the right words to write to the troops when packaging the pens.

As Braiden was sealing his finished product into a ziplock bag, he told KVAL News, "I feel really good for the shape of the pen and the note.

Joe Essin, co-owner of Woodcraft, said that he is happy to see young people have such an interest in both woodworking and patriotism. Essin has several friends currently in active duty, and said that was part of why Woodcraft hosted the "Turning for Troops" event.

"Giving them the opportunity to have something that's handmade that's really special, a lifetime heirloom that will encourage them write home and be thankful for those that are supporting them back home too." Essin said.

Turning for Troops continues at Woodcraft's Delta Oaks Shopping Center location. Making a pen for your friend or family member serving in the military is free of charge.