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Grab a Yellow Ribbon, Help Line Fallen Soldier's Route Home

Catherine's Garden in Oak Forest is giving out free yellow ribbons to line the route of Mokena's Aaron Toppen as he is carried home to Mokena.

An Oak Forest florist will distribute free yellow ribbons for lining the route of Mokena's fallen Aaron Toppen, 19, killed by apparent friendly fire in Afghanistan last week. 

Catherine's Gardens, 15146 S. Cicero Ave., will provide free ribbons, beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday until 5 p.m.—or until the 2,500 ribbons run out.

Toppen, is expected to arrive back in Chicago later this week. 

"We are looking for all available help in making sure the entire route is covered with these yellow ribbons," friend of the business Mike Cozzi wrote of the effort. "We need all hands on deck to help!" 

Those who take a ribbon from Catherine's will be assigned a designated stretch of the route, Cozzi said. 

Mokena has organized a similar effort, asking residents to display yellow ribbons throughout town. 

Toppen, a 2013 graduate of Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort, departed for Afghanistan in March—a month after the death of his father Ronald Toppen, Sun-Times Media reports.

"Aaron was a funny, caring, loving kid,” his sister Amanda Gralewski told Sun-Times reporters. “He loved to fish. He loved his friends. He loved being outdoors. He loved his family. He would give the shirt off his back for anyone.”

Family friend Debbie Kowalkowski hopes the ribbons offer a sense of remembrance and peace to the Toppen family.

"This has been a really tough run for everyone," she said of the family. "We're hoping the yellow ribbons bring everyone together, to welcome him home."

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Linda Lehtinen VanWitzenburg June 16, 2014 at 11:06 PM
Where should we show up? I can help most of the day....
Lauren Traut June 17, 2014 at 02:16 AM
Stop in to Catherine's Gardens (address listed in the story) for ribbons and instructions.
None ya business June 18, 2014 at 01:16 PM
We went by Catherine's Gardens and signed up for an email blast giving us instructions on Aaron's arrival. No email yet, but we have our ribbon's. Info from them was that they had the route covered with ribbons....so someone HAS the route. Anyone know what it is? Info on services?
Ann Kozicki June 19, 2014 at 07:20 AM
Would also like to know route and day/time. Thank you.

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