Christmas boxes sent to Afghanistan by residents of Wasco and Hood River counties are shown with the team of defense contractors who received them. Other shipments arrived at the base of an Oregon National Guard unit and Marine Raiders in the Middle East. A total of 85 boxes were sent to the field and the Holiday for Heroes Committee, which organized the outreach effort, credits the generosity of community members for the success of the mission.
As of Tuesday, January 2, 2018
The Holiday for Heroes Committee received a photo Dec. 27 from a team of defense contractors in Afghanistan posing with 31 Christmas boxes they received from Gorge residents.
The photo was accompanied by these words from Miguel, one of the team members: “This isn't everyone but it's everyone I could muster right now. Had some guys working and others just dispersed around the camp.
“The guys descended on the gifts like locusts, laughing and giving thanks to the group that sent the packages. This was a gigantic morale builder, more so than I would have imagined. Thank you doesn't quite cut it but thank you so very much. Merry Christmas and God bless all of our supporters. Your efforts were greatly noticed and appreciated by the men here.”
He added, “believe it or not, the most popular items are the handmade letters and drawings from children.”
Area schools participated in the troop support effort by allowing students to write messages and send works of art to the defense team and 29 members of an Oregon National Guard military police unit who train in Hood River.
Capt. Rich Smith of that unit said Tuesday the tempo of operations has been too high for a Christmas party, so pictures of his soldiers opening their care packages were not yet available.
The soldiers are providing protective services for high-level officials in support of Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support, both missions to train and advise Afghan forces.
Another shipment of boxes was sent to a group of Marine Raiders serving at an undisclosed location in the Middle East.
Elizabeth Wallis, manager of The Dalles Civic Auditorium, co-chaired the committee, which was comprised of representatives from area businesses and organizations. They invited residents of Hood River and The Dalles to contribute snack and hygiene items, or funds for shipping, to the cause.
A community box packing was held at the Civic on Nov. 16 and the boxes were sent to the field by The Dalles Outpost of Point Man International Ministries, a nonprofit that handled the financial end of the outreach effort.
“There's nothing that captures the spirit of Christmas as much as giving. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to those whose sacrifices are often under-appreciated, and to the community who generously supported them with donations and time,” said Wallis.
Dan Brophy, a Marine veteran and chaplain for Point Man, said the statement made by Miguel (last name withheld for security reasons) reflects how he felt when receiving care packages from home during a 1968-69 deployment to Vietnam.
“When the boxes came, it let me know that the people back home cared,” he said.
“It showed me that we were not just out there alone, that somebody had our backs — plus it was good stuff and very appreciated.”
Because the community provided so much support, the committee was able to ship 85 boxes instead of the 30 originally planned, said Wallis.