HOWARD — A little care from home is being sent overseas to some local soldiers, just in time for the holidays. Thanks to the efforts of the Apple Valley Activities Committee and numerous volunteers, more than 200 soldiers in Afghanistan will receive a box packaged with a variety of “goodies” before Christmas to make their holiday just a bit brighter.
Part of the Apple Valley Property Owners Association, the committee is in its second year of conducting this project, and it is already growing by leaps and bounds.
“We sent 67 care packages last year,” said committee chairperson Sally Mayberry. “This year we have funds to send as many as 223.” The committee came up with the idea in 2010, and Mayberry volunteered to do the storing and packing in her home. The project took off so quickly that this year it has been moved to the Floral Valley Community Center to accommodate the amount of space needed.
Some of the items are homemade. Others are purchased new and donated.
With the success of last year’s project, work started early this year to make this year an even bigger success. Information was provided to the community, flyers were passed out, and those involved started spreading the word about the project to family and friends.
Names began to be collected for the list of recipients, and the Westerville National Guard Unit provided a list of names of many Ohio soldiers. “These are medics and nurses; there are men and women,” Mayberry said of the soldiers on this year’s list.
The biggest chore was the collection of items for the packages. As items began to pour in, containers of one like item were assembled to ease the planning of packing the right number of appropriate items in each box. Mayberry secured a $1,200 donation from the Ariel Corp. as well as other donations from various local businesses to help pay for the shipping of the boxes.
A staff of around 50 volunteers was busy methodically assembling the contents in each box on Saturday. When the soldiers open their care packages, they will find items including hats, blankets, socks, gloves, body wash, shampoo, toys, batteries, DVDs, note pads, pens, snacks, candy and other items, as well as letters from students and Christmas cards.
The packages were all assembled on Saturday and will be sent to the Gambier Post Office. The United States Postal Service is providing the large priority boxes, forms and tape for the boxes. In all, it will cost $2,700 to mail the boxes. The packages are to be sent out this week and are expected to arrive in the soldiers’ hands within one to two weeks. A few packages will be taken to remote areas by helicopter.
As the care packages make their way to Afghanistan for the holidays, a little bit of love from Knox County goes with them. Mayberry said she hopes the committee can continue to touch even more hearts in 2012.