In celebrating the 50th anniversary of Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, and in recognizing our troops serving in Iraq, the United Methodist Church began a rally to collect and send long-distance phone cards to the soldiers in time for the holiday season.
"Many of our troops are missing critical events in their families--births, deaths, serious illness," says the Rev. Greg Hill, a director with the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, a unit of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. "Phone cards would show how much our troops and their families are appreciated."
The UMBHEM, which oversees military chaplains endorsed by the church, will collect the cards and send them to the chaplains for distribution in the camps.
"The chaplains can use the phone cards to assist troops in time of need, especially for hospitalized soldiers who want to call home," said Hill.
The chaplains at Fort Stewart, Ga., who recent returned from Iraq, also recommended sending care packages from home. Such gifts, said the chaplain, could easily boost the spirit and moral of the troops.
"It was a powerful thing to know the people back home were behind us and supporting us with prayers," said Chaplain Jerry Sieg. "It was made evident with cards and letters, life-saving kits and care packages that came. I will be forever grateful."
Captain Michael O’Neil, who also serves at Fort Steward, also emphasized the importance of care packages and mail.
"When the war started the mail could not keep us with us, there was a time when there was little or no mail," said O’Neil.
According to O’Neil, the love of the family, shown through the mail, gave the soldiers the strength to proceed each day after the break of war.
"The mail is what grounded us. The Christian love of families and friends,” said O’Neil.
The family members of Fort Campbell Ky., were encouraged to participate in “Operation Desert Care Package.” The project, a joint effort by the home base and family, would have a “home team” deliver certificates of appreciation to the families who sent packages to the soldiers.
"I thought it would be wonderful if we received 50 packages," said the project’s moderator, Chaplain Jay West. "I was overwhelmed when I was able to deliver more than 500 care packages to these men and women. This is truly an example of sharing God’s love."