When Veterans Day or Memorial Day rolls around, we think about those serving in the military, and we're thankful.
However, a group of women from Baker wondered what they could do besides say a prayer to repay them for their service and set about forming an alliance called Citizens for Soldiers.
Citizens for Soldiers says its mission is to "show appreciation for our soldiers overseas by supplying them with necessities and some of the small comforts of home."
"Many of our soldiers are on the front lines in foreign countries helping to secure not only our rights but the rights of others," said Julie Prejean, founding member, Citizens for Soldiers. "These men and women fighting for our country lack basic every day necessities such as shampoo, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash."
“There are no military stores there for them since they're usually the first on the scene setting up temporary bases. Whatever toiletries they have, have been sent from home or from a friend,” said Tammy Stubbs-Chatman, whose husband is currently on a mission in Afghanistan. “He sets up temporary bases prior to other platoons coming in. When he gets back from a mission, and a package from home is there, he gets so excited. Not only about what’s in the box but to hear news from home. It’s the small things they miss like reading local news, getting his favorite candy or a card or letter from our sons.”
Citizens for Soldiers member Olga Short commented: “I have a cousin there now, and I've often wondered what I could do or how I could send his favorite things to him."
Short said a family friend recently posted something online about holding a drive for soldiers overseas, and it was then she knew she had to do something.
“We're hoping the communities of Baker, Central and Zachary will help us appreciate our men and women overseas by showing their support. A thank you card or a letter means so much to them after a long day out there. Receiving needed supplies helps them know they are not alone...plus they'll always be carrying a piece of home with them," Short challenged.
She said with the weather overseas beginning to get cold, the soldiers are requesting items to keep them warm such as fleece blankets, hot chocolate, instant soups or hand and toe warmers. "Even a letter or short note can warm the heart,” Short said.
Hancock Fabrics helped initiate the Citizens for Soldiers drive by donating enough fleece to make 30 blankets for the platoon, and kids at a local daycare are donating packages of cookies including each child's photo and a little handwritten note about themselves, the women said.
“We are challenging schools, daycare centers, businesses and citizens of Baker, Central and Zachary to show their support for our soldiers. After all, they are putting their life on the line each and every day for us to stay safe and free,” said the newly formed alliance.
You can help by donating any of the following items on the soldiers' request list. Items include:
Fleece blankets, shampoo, deodorant, disposable razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, gloves, aspirin/vitamins, ear plugs, foot powder, magazines/books (paperback), small flashlights, batteries (all-sizes), body lotion, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, writing pads, pens/pencils, assorted greeting cards (Thank You/Birthday/Miss You, etc.), travel clocks, socks (white or black), boot laces (72" in black), board games/playing cards (disposable), hand/foot warmer packs (disposable) and feminine hygiene/supplies (pads/tampons), instant hot chocolate, instant soup packages, beef jerky products, tuna (in foil packs), hard candy (nothing that can melt) and/or nuts (assorted).
Citizens for Soldiers will be collecting the donated items throughout the month of October and will be sending the packages to troops overseas in the months following. For more information, please contact Tammy Stubbs-Chatman at 225-326-2416, Olga Short at 225-715-5306 or Julie Prejean at 225-485-9336.