FLUVANNA – The community came together Saturday to package gifts and needed supplies for service men and women overseas.
The annual effort, hosted by the Blue Star Mothers group in Chautauqua County, aims to fill thousands of boxes with a little piece of home.
Susan Rowley, President of the Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie New York Chapter 4, says anything from tooth brushes to beef jerky are packed together for the troops.
Furthermore, Rowley says that she is overcome by the amount of community support that fuels her mission.
“What makes me happy its not just our veteran groups that are here, its our community,” said Rowley. “When you have a child serving, to see our community come together like this, it fills my heart to know that they are standing behind what our children are doing.”
Last year, the mothers sent 1,000 boxes to troopers overseas. Rowley’s goal is to do that again this year.
“I go to a convention every year and we tell how many boxes we send, and we are usually about third in the nation,” explained Rowley. “That’s our Western New York, that’s our community, that’s our patriotic, supportive, wonderful community.”
In addition to the hundreds of community volunteers who helped build the packages, several service men and women came out to do their part.
U.S. Army Captain Gustafson explained that opening a care package from home while deployed during the holidays means the world to troops overseas.
“Getting Christmas cards, food, and anything else you need in the mail is just a really good pick me up when you are deployed,” said Gustafson.
“It’s letting you know that someone is thinking about you,” said U.S. Army Sergeant Diffenderfer. “To see how this whole operation is coming together is an amazing thing.”
The Blue Star Mothers started collecting supplies in September for the packages.
This year, Jamestown Container donated boxes and JRSC Express donated shipping supplies to help streamline the process.
Before the event, the Jamestown Modern Warfare Veterans group donated $2,500 to the mothers. Rowley says that money will be used to cover part of the postage costs.