Church Members Prepare Soldiers’ Easter Baskets

BY TERESA SMITH, Times-Union Staff Writer

Members of the New Beginnings Community Church pose with the packages they prepared. In front, second and third from the right are Patty Wolf of Mentone and Kathy Drake of Etna Green, whose husbands are deployed with the Army National Guard. Photo by Teresa Smith, Times-Union

ATWOOD – Until a couple of weeks ago, Kathy Drake, of Etna Green, and her husband, Scott, spoke every three days on the telephone.

Scott is a specialist for the Indiana National Guard and went to Kuwait in February. Kathy began regularly sending packages to her husband and 13 members of his unit. With each telephone call, Scott would give Kathy another name. Now she packs boxes for 28 people.

The task of collecting donations, funds for mailing and purchasing items for the care packages takes a good part of Kathy’s week.

Saturday, members of New Beginnings Community Church pitched in to fill baskets with Easter goodies – jelly beans, dessert cakes, marshmallow chicks and bunnies, purchased and homemade cookies and plastic eggs filled with “surprises,” lined with Easter grass. Cards with Easter greetings were tucked into each box.

This is the first time Kathy has had more than two people working on the Priority Mail packages.

“Usually it’s me and my dad (Vern Rohrer of Atwood),” Kathy said of the packing and preparations for shipping. “I spend Friday nights filling out customs forms, which require everything be listed. This week it was easy, just candy.”

Donations are collected in boxes at the post office and bank in Etna Green. A niece, who is a senior at Tippecanoe Valley High School, collected donations. Churches in Atwood and Etna Green take in items along with the Big Lots and Wal-Mart store in Warsaw.

“I have had people just give me $50, $100,” she said. “They tell me to spend it on anything, but I just buy more for the guys.”

The Drakes have been married 11 years and have a son, Joshua. Scott was a U.S. Marine for six years and joined the local Army National Guard unit, never dreaming he would be called to combat.

“The recruiter said the guard hadn’t been mobilized for 30 years,” she said. “Scott was gone for 18 months during Desert Storm.

“He likes it, though. It’s where he wants to be.”

Patty Wolf and her mother Vicky Boggs, both of Mentone, assisted in the Saturday’s project. Patty’s husband, Kenneth, also serves in the guard.

Generally, The Lions Clubs of Bourbon and Etna Green have paid for postage, $9 to $13 per box. The Clunette Elevator will pay for this shipment.

“Scott always wants Reeces Pieces and Oreo cookies,” his wife said. “I also send baby wipes, toilet paper and a lot of batteries. He said the homemade cookies don’t even last a day.”

Shipping usually takes two weeks, and mail delivery was put on hold as the troops in Iraq advanced on Baghdad. Now, Kathy has heard, a truck is returning to a Kuwaiti base once a week to pick up mail and packages.

The Easter baskets may arrive just in time for the spring holiday.

Helping from Etna Green were Martha Jones and Louise Truex; from Mentone – Vicky Boggs; from Warsaw – Jean Sisk, Bev Johnson, Dawn Klinger and Helen Grubbs; and from Bourbon – Tina Eyrich.

© 1999 Times-Union. All rights reserved.
Times-Union Homepage