The astounding Mary St. Clair is at it again, rallying help for a major holiday care-package shipment to sons and daughters in uniform and in harm's way.

With the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, Mary hadn't mounted a package drive this year. But she received a chaplain's plea that Healdsburg SOS (Supporting Our Soldiers) reach out to 500 soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division who will spend Christmas in a remote outpost, and she's putting out the call.

She has arranged for police stations in Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Windsor, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park and Cotati to accept donations of a seasonal essential for troops — white crew socks.

After Halloween, we can also drop at the police stations our leftover trick-or-treat candy.

The folks at Healdsburg's Purls of Joy yarn shop are working to see that every soldier receives a knit cap. Contact the shop if you'd like to make one or two or more.

Mary intends to send also chewing gum, dried fruit, jerky, granola, nuts, hand-warmers, foot balm and Frisbees bearing original artwork and messages of support.

The socks being collected at police stations are hugely important to troops' comfort and well-being. For details on how else you can help, email Mary through healdsburgsos.org.

And make note of the great carton-packing event: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in the gym at St. John's Catholic School.

<strong>D.C. IS CLOSED</strong> but former Petaluma High classmates and '60s-era Marines Leonard Cohen and Jack Withington packed up Monday and flew there anyway.

The Santa Rosans are in the semi-shuttered capitol

because Wednesday's the 102nd anniversary of the birth of the late Joe Rosenthal, the news photographer best known for his iconic shot of Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

The day was deemed the best for dedicating, on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a new bronze plaque that honors Rosenthal for the photo and the way in heartened war-weary Americans. Rosenthal died in Novato in 2006, at 94.

Admirers Cohen and Withington were key to the creation of the memorial plaque. And a fellow Petaluma High alum, retired Marine Gen. Rich Hearney of Ukiah, helped to get it placed at the museum in Triangle, Va.

Cohen and Withington belong to the organization behind the honor, the San Francisco chapter of the USMC Combat Correspondents Association. Cohen, a driving instructor and retired P.E. teacher, designed the plaque.

Withington, who worked in plumbing/air-conditioning supplies, said, "We've never thought Joe got enough credit for taking that picture."

<strong>TAKES TWO TO</strong>...Something was amiss when the historically fabulous Nordquist's Dance started its current ballroom class for teen-agers last Tuesday at the vets building in Santa Rosa.

"We're really low on boys," laments Stephen Nordquist.

Session No. 2 in the 24-week course in dance, manners and social grace begins at 7 this evening.

<em>Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.</em>