|The American Legion Auxiliary #42 from Ferron prepare Christmas packages for local soldiers overseas. Joan Brinkerhoff and daughter Natasha prepare a package for David Brinkerhoff who is serving in Balad, Iraq. He will be back in Virginia on April 15, 2008.|
The American Legion auxiliary #42 met to fill the boxes to be sent overseas. The boxes were stuffed completely full with a new fleece blanket, Christmas candy, Cracker Jacks, personal items and letters and pictures. The packages need to be in the mail by Dec. 4 to arrive in time for Christmas in Iraq.
They began the project of Operation Home Support 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 21 soldiers on the list for the Christmas packages.
They send out six-seven packages a year at holidays and Veteran's Day to each of the 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 soldier's 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.
|The boxes are filled to capacity and ready to mail.|
Hess said they had a booth at the Emery County Fair where they took donations for the project. 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.
The Christmas boxes include a fleece blanket the ladies made with the initials of each soldier on their blanket. 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.