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Sending comfort to soldiers

Created date

July 27th, 2010
DC0810_HelpSoldiers1
DC0810_HelpSoldiers1

Despite what its name implies, Ashby Ponds Ladies who do Nothing social group recently got active organizing a campus-wide effort to send care packages to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have over 130 retired military living at Ashby Ponds, says resident Phyllis Lynne, who first approached the Ladies who do Nothing group with the idea. I thought it would be a great project for our community because all the residents of Ashby Ponds want to show their support for service personnel.

Lynne was right. In less than five days, collection containers were overflowing and donations poured in to cover shipping costs. We initially thought that we would collect items for two weeks, says Lynne, but the response was immediate. In addition to the donated items (food, toiletries, and entertainment), each care package contained a personal letter and a knitted helmet liner contributed by the community s Knitting Group. Two grandsons of Ashby Ponds residents as well as seven soldiers from the anysoldier.com website became the lucky beneficiaries of multiple boxes courtesy of Ashby Ponds. Anysoldier.com was started in 2004 by the family of a soldier deployed in Afghanistan who saw that many of his comrades were not receiving mail from home. After he left the military, his family continued the site. I used the website to send items to military personnel when I was part of a women s group in Charlotte, N.C., says Lynne.

Time to get to work

With the collection complete and the soldiers selected, it was time to begin sorting and packing. Our sorting parties were really fun, says Lynne. We gathered women and some of their unsuspecting spouses to help count and sort all of the donations in three major groups: toiletries, food products, and games and books. As we sorted, boxes were filled and inventory sheets (necessary forms for customs) were filled out. This activity took several hours and 20 people. Not even a month had passed whenAshby Pondsbegan hearing from the American soldiers who received their generous donations. One of the most moving responses came from Command Master Chief (SCW) Daniel Johnson, who in addition to a thank-you letter and photograph sent a flag flown on his base at the Kandahar Airfield to honorAshby Ponds. Johnson wrote: On behalf of my troops and me, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity and patriotism. The items in the packages were incredible and much appreciated. It is always a treat when we get packages from Stateside. It truly makes the troops, especially the younger ones, know that folks back home are thinking of them.

More to do

The Ladies who do Nothing club may have been designed to give women an opportunity to relax for an hour with friends, but in truth, most of the women in this group have very active lives, says Lynne. With one project complete, the Ladies who do Nothing group hopes to sponsor another drive for the soldiers around the holidays. The best part of this project was the feeling of joy, says Lynne, knowing that in some very small way, we had shown our support for those young men and women who are serving in foreign lands to preserve our freedoms.

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