It was a simple request, but one Rosanne Chastain of Mt. Selman could not fulfill for her son who was serving in Iraq. Her son, 24-year-old Staff Sergeant Robert Mayo, left Dec. 26 for his first tour in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force reserves. She sent him off with a few small things – Chapstick and eye drops for the desert weather.

“I just told him to do whatever he had to do to come home, which is kind of a hard thing to say because you don’t want to tell your child to hurt people,” Rosanne said. “Mostly, I just cried, but I tried to be brave for him.”

She also told Robert to call her with anything he might want overseas. A few weeks after his departure, his sole request surprised her — favored, midget Tootsie Rolls.

“It kind of came out of the blue,” Rosanne said. “It just sort of came to his mind, and he just got a hankering for them, and he couldn’t get them out of his mind. He said they had lots of candy, but not those.”

Like their cousins the Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Fruit Rolls are individually wrapped chewy candies that come in five flavors — cherry, lemon, orange, vanilla and lime. They are available bagged, or by the piece at stores with bulk candy sections.

But Rosanne searched area grocery stores and could not find the particular candy.

“It is so difficult to have somebody in a war and have them only ask for one thing, and you can’t provide it,” Rosanne said. “It was very upsetting. Such a little thing. I would have bought every bag I could find if I could only find any, and to not be able to find even one was very upsetting... but when you’ve got a person over there, it doesn’t take much to make you cry.”

Rosanne continued her search and turned to the Internet. On Jan. 11, Rosanne called Tootsie Roll Industries headquarters in Chicago and quickly broke into tears as she explained her plight.

Tootsie Roll sent Robert an entire case of Fruit Rolls — enough for him to share with his fellow soldiers in the Air Force.

“We were very appreciative of all the efforts that her son is doing in Iraq, and we were sorry she was unable to find the Tootsie Fruit rolls, and we decided to help,” said Ellen Gordon, president of Tootsie Roll Industries. “It’s pretty lonely to send your child all the way to Iraq, and we were so glad that we could (help.) We hope that all our young men and women who are serving us so well can come home soon to their families.”

Tootsie Roll also put Rosanne in touch with the distribution department so she could find the candies the next time Robert requests them.

“They were just so nice,” Rosanne said, “and to send him so much of it and not to let me pay for it, it’s just really nice of them to do that and to support the troops.”

Robert is a 1999 Rusk High School graduate, who now lives in San Antonio and works as a respiratory therapist. He is the son of Fred Mayo of Jacksonville and has one brother, Conrad Mayo, 25, of Alto. Rosanne and her husband, Eddy Chastain, live in Mt. Selman.

Rosanne and Robert e-mail almost every day, and he recently sent her a photo of him and his fellow soldiers with their Fruit Rolls.

“He (Robert) thought that was very sweet of them. He was really tickled,” Rosanne said.

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