|Jan Hess asks the commission for funds to continue the Operation Home Support project.|
Jan Hess from the American Legion auxiliary #42 requested a donation from the Emery County Commission for Operation Home Support. She along with members of the Ferron auxiliary began the project in April of 2004. They send packages to soldiers overseas who are residents of Emery County or who have loved ones in the county. People submit the soldiers names and addresses to the auxiliary and they take it from there. They have served 60 soldiers since the beginning and currently have 19 soldiers on the list to send a Christmas package, too.
They send out six-seven packages a year at holidays and Veteran's Day to each of the 19 soldiers.
Some of the soldiers they have sent to are on their second or third tour of duty and some of them have arrived safely back home.
Random packages without names cannot be sent and homemade baked items cannot be sent. A soldiers name must be on the package. The auxiliary has been involved in a number of fund raisers to get funds to mail out the items. The have held bake sales, yard sales and other events. They also place donation boxes out to collect the items to send. Some of the items include packaged goodies, music CDs, socks, pictures, books and other items the soldiers need.
Hess said they had a booth at the Emery County Fair where they took donations for the project. They are down to the end of their funds now with the Veteran's Day boxes that just went out depleting what they had left.
They include a personal letter to the soldier in each box. The letters are written by the ladies in the auxiliary. They have received many thank yous from the soldiers who have received the boxes. One picture had the soldier holding the box he received with a big smile on his face. The ladies try to include different items in the boxes each time.
For the Christmas boxes they are making fleece hats and blankets to include. The fleece was purchased at Pats Sew- n-Stuff where she gave the material for cost for the worthy cause. For Christmas they have 19 soldiers they are preparing boxes to be shipped.
Commissioner Gary Kofford commended Hess and her associates for the job they are doing with the Operation Home Support boxes.
Ray Petersen said he has a son in Iraq and the boxes from home are priceless for these soldiers.
Some of the soldiers don't ever receive any letters or packages from home. Hess said many of the soldiers they send to share their boxes with the other soldiers. Medic Rick Kollar from Elmo who was one of the recipients of boxes on his tour of duty, requested to meet the auxiliary ladies who had been sending packages. The auxiliary ladies arranged a pot luck dinner so Kollar and his ladies could meet. They had a nice visit and he expressed his appreciation for the packages.
Rick said in a letter, "I so much appreciate my nice packages from the Ferron ladies and the nice pictures you send. We put the pictures on the cork board."
When the auxiliary ladies heard that some of the soldiers never receive anything, they asked for these soldiers names so they could be included for a package.
"I know they appreciate what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish. It just breaks your heart, that some of these soldiers never receive anything from home. There are soldiers who rarely receive mail. Rick let us know of three soldiers who never got a letter or a package and we hurried and put together a Christmas box for those who never have mail. We also prepared Christmas cards for those men who hadn't received anything," said Hess.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks made a motion to donate $500 to the Operation Home Support to help with the Christmas boxes.
"It's all for our boys right here from Emery County," said Horrocks.
Operation Home Support is in need of continued funding to keep the packages going to the soldiers to help maintain their morale and assure them they aren't forgotten.
The postage for the boxes being shipped adds up fast and funds are soon used up. The auxiliary would like the support of the county residents in maintaining this program to support the troops.
Anyone who would like to donate money or items to the cause should contact Jan Hess at 384-2753 or Dixie Swasey at 384-3172. Leave a message and they will get back to you.