Love Boxes for Soldiers
|The Love Box Story – How it was started|
My wife and I became acquainted with Bill and Jan Schutz through the friendship of our daughters at school and at our church. Early in 2005 Lt. Col. Bill Schutz volunteered to go to a combat zone. He didn’t have to go. He had already been through one deployment and spent months away from his family at that time. I couldn’t understand why a soldier who had fulfilled his duty would volunteer to place himself in harms way. The last time we saw each other before he left, I presented him with a flag and asked him what could be done. All he said was to send him an e-mail every so often and we left it at that. Bill arrived in Baghdad, Iraq and sent the first e-mail with pictures to his friends on April 29, 2005. Bill said that all his needs were met and that he was doing fine.
Four months went by with very little communication because my life was busy with a family business, a wife who has a demanding career and three teenagers at home. In September, I called Jan and asked her what I could do for Bill beyond what I was presently doing, which was nothing. Jan gave me Bill’s address and suggested that I go down to the post office, pick up a domestic flat rate box and for very little postage, mail some items to him. Armed with a box I went to my grocery store and began walking up and down the aisles trying to decide from the packed shelves what to include in the box. I suddenly realized I had taken for granted that the groceries would always be there, that the success of my business or the safety of my family was in my control, and how trivial my “problems” were in comparison to those of the military families. The box in my hands was now not big enough to say thanks to soldiers like Bill.
On October 1, 2005 a single box was mailed to Baghdad filled with granola, snacks, canned goods, and a book on CD and one week later I received a most grateful and heartfelt e-mail from Bill. If one box is so fulfilling an experience, what about a few dozen? The pastors and staff at Morningstar Community Church in Salem Oregon were excited about the idea of asking the church members to send boxes to deployed soldiers, that were from families within our membership, and to their buddies within their units.
On November 14, 2005 with a pile of 147 boxes, prayer support from friends, and a hope that 50-75 people would take a box, the project was presented in our first service. The boxes lasted 6 minutes. Some grateful spouses of deployed soldiers were in tears, and many a veteran expressed their thanks to the church for this effort. After second service, the sign up sheet contained the names of members requesting 246 more boxes. The Lord had answered our prayers. We began to receive thanks from soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Bahrain. On December 4, 2005 with a mountain of over 600 boxes, the members took over 500 home with them. It became clear that this was a larger project than just one church. On that day Operation: Love Boxes for our Troops was born. Its sole mission is to encourage American citizens to fill a box and mail it themselves to a soldier far from home. The two purposes it serves are to thank the soldiers and their families for their sacrifice on our behalf and to raise the awareness of those of us at home the debt of gratitude that we owe the men and women who put on the uniform. Be ready to see tears from veterans that were never thanked for their service, be forewarned to gracefully accept the appreciation of deployed soldiers families, and be prepared to understand why American soldiers continue to volunteer to place themselves in harms way.
Wow, what an awesome story and here at First United Methodist Church of Gilbert, we are able to be part of the ongoing campaign letting our service personnel know that we have not forgotten them and that we care about them and are praying for their safety. All it takes is collecting various items that we might take for granted. The box is packed with an inventory list for the U.S. Customs. Once the box is packed with prayers and love, and the items in which are given by church members, we ship it to one of the soldiers that we have the privilege of knowing about. The box only costs $12.50 to mail.
Our team normally hears back via the family members at church, that their loved one has received a box and how it lifted their spirits, to know that we are praying for them. We also hear that the solider almost always shares the contents of the box with their fellow soldiers.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED:
- If you know of a solider away from home. PLEASE contact the Missions team at church with their name and mailing address.
- Donate $12.50 to mail the box
- Donate items that can go into the box to the solider, just drop the items off at the Missions table in between services on Sunday.
Suggested items to be included in the box:
Encouraging notes, goodies, music CD’s, books on CE, games, magazines, beef jerky, hand sanitizer, personal wipes, etc. Also hard candy, school supplies, Beanie Babies, toothbrushes and personal hygiene items are handed out to the local children. Use your imagination! PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE ITEMS THAT WILL MELT OR SPOIL IN THE 7-10 DAYS IT TAKES TO GET TO THE SOLDIER.
For more information regarding the Love Boxes for Soliders, please email the Missions Team.