HOWARD — Sally Mayberry never volunteered for anything this big in her life. Now she is giving American soldiers, thousands of miles away, a touch of home.
Last month Mayberry and the Apple Valley Activities Committee sent 67 packages to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of their project called, “A Touch of Home.” The group’s efforts were so successful, they want to do it again.
“We had toothpaste, toothbrushes and all kinds of toiletries,” said Mayberry. “We sent food, snacks, games, toys — everything imaginable. We had all of it donated and we had all the money for the postage donated from the clubs in Apple Valley, citizens and business people. Walmart, Kroger and CVS all donated things. My dentist in Danville donated a whole bunch of stuff. Another dentist in Gahanna donated stuff. It was absolutely fantastic”
The U.S. Post Office in Gambier did all the work on the customs forms. The packages were then mailed to New York, where the Army took them the rest of the journey.
“I have a contact in Afghanistan at the NATO base in Kabul,” said Mayberry. “I sent him quite a few packages because he passed them out to different soldiers, who didn’t get much mail. I have another contact in Iraq and I also know a chaplain in Afghanistan. There were people, who gave us their name and address. They were relatives or friends who had someone over there and each one got two or three packages.”
Mayberry’s efforts in the community have gained her valuable contacts on this side of the ocean and plenty of support to keep this project going.
“Now, that we have done it once, it’s gotten very well known,” said Mayberry. “Everybody’s been asking me to do it again. So I decided to do it again because there are so many people interested.”
It was her love for her country and a little coaxing that led Mayberry to take the lead in this project.
“I’m just real patriotic,” said Mayberry. “The committee chairman decided that this would be a good idea and they made me chairman (of this project) because I had a stepson over there and I was sending him boxes every week. So, I kind of half-knew what I was doing. He was the one, who gave me the contact name in Afghanistan that I kept in touch with.”
Now, Mayberry has a certificate signed by Gen. David Petraceus and the Apple Valley Activities Committee will be getting a flag that was flown over the base in their honor. Best of all, are the letters from the soldiers, who received the packages.
“I got two letters and each one has four signatures,” said Mayberry. “I have also heard from the relatives thanking us. It makes you want to cry because you feel like they really do care. They need it. I mean, they need this stuff. My contact said that they could put the dental stuff out on the table and the guys would come on to get what they needed. Within 20 minutes, it was gone. We had many boxes full of that.”
Donations can be made out by check to A Touch of Home. They can be sent to 3134 Apple Valley Drive, Howard, OH 43028. Non-monetary donations can be brought to that same address or to Floral Valley Community Center in Apple Valley. There will also be money jugs and boxes at various merchants around the area. Volunteers are always welcome, Mayberry said.