EATON — A group of military mothers gathered this past weekend to send 138 holiday care packages overseas to those serving in the military. Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter OH 11, Echo-01 held its 13th annual Christmas Packing Party on Saturday, Nov. 16. The chapter is comprised of military mothers located in Preble, Darke, and Butler Counties.
According to President Linda Samuels, the Blue Star Mothers of America is a national group of mothers with chapters in almost all 50 states — their children range from just starting out in basic to being deployed for the first time or fifth time to becoming a veteran.
They provide support for troops throughout the year in anyway they can, however, the Christmas Packing Event is their biggest annual effort. Nationally, Blue Star Mothers send out 100,000 boxes. This year, Chapter Oh 11, Echo-01 sent out 138 packages to troops.
“Normally we do 200 packages. This year, we just did not have the names we have in the past years,” she said.
The chapter posts to Facebook asking for names of troops to send packages. This year, they did not have as many names submitted. However, the chapter was also able to send boxes to chaplains, who will distribute various boxes to soldiers on remote bases, who do not normally get mail.
“We are sending about 35 boxes a piece to these [two] chaplains. They will disperse them to people they know for a fact do not get mail,” Samuels said. “We’ve done this in the past, but haven’t done it the past couple years. It just so happens that we got addresses for chaplains, this year.”
These care packages contain many different items, from personal items to individual snack items, games, and books. They also include blank Christmas cards, so the troops can send cards to their loved ones. Preble County elementary students also hand make Christmas cards for the troops to put on the top of the box.
“The kids from Preble County schools and then a few schools from Greenville all made homemade Christmas card. Right before we close the boxes, those go on top with an note from us about who we are and wishes them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years,” she said.
Items for the boxes are donated by community members and companies in the area. This year, donations were up significantly.
“It’s funny, last year we hardly got any donations and the boxes were really sparse. We had the bigger boxes last year and there wasn’t a lot of stuff in the boxes. So, we used the smaller boxes this year, but we had so many donations that we have enough for our Easter [boxes] too,” she said.
As military mothers, it is important for them to recognize the soldiers and ensure they know they are remembered during the holiday season.
“This is our way of giving back. The soldiers give so much by being deployed. They’re away from [their families]. Most of us have kids who are in the military. This is our way of saying thank you and telling them we haven’t forgotten them,” she said.
“I’ve had two kids in the military. I’ve seen the sacrifices they have made. It is very difficult, especially when your child is deployed. Days, sometime weeks go by that we don’t hear from our children. We don’t know if they’re eating good or sleeping. There are also people who are wanting to kill them [constantly]. In this group, we support [other mothers] who are going through the same thing.”
Samuels thanked everyone who donated and spent time packing the boxes on Saturday. She also thanked American Legion Post 182, New Palestine, Indiana, who donated funds for the postage, and Twin Valley South Career Based Intervention students who donated their time to pack boxes.
She added, Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter OH 11, Echo-01 is actively seeking new members. Military mothers, family members, and supporters are welcome to join. If interested, contact 740-462-2389.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH