The Pentagon established a special telephone number Thursday to advise how to send gifts to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.
``We're asking that would-be donors contact the hot line before collecting their donated items to make sure that they can be accepted,' Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said.``Before everybody goes to the trouble of rounding all this stuff up, it would be good if they give us a call,' he said.
Inquiries will be handled by the Defense Logistics Agency in Alexandria, Va. The hot line number, which is not a toll-free call, is (703) 274-3561.
Before the hot line was set up, the agency had received dozens of calls from people offering to donate items as varied as umbrellas and ice cream.
``The outpouring of patriotism is heartwarming,' said Paul Trkula, one of the hot line operators. ``We are overwhelmed by the response. We only wish we could take advantage of all the offers.'
The agency has had to reject perishable gifts, such as chocolate candy and lobsters.