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Military mission project blesses soldiers

Military mission project blesses soldiers

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Military mission project blesses soldiers

May 8, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0482}

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

When a package Cheryl Price had sent her son was lost in the mail, God gave her a vision for a ministry that is now touching the lives of hundreds of soldiers.

“I have a son who is in the Air Force, and he was sent to Korea just before Christmas so I had sent a package, and he never received it,” Price said. “He went to the post office every day and looked for this package. … I knew that there must be others in the same desperate situation looking and longing for a package from home.”

CORAL SPRINGS — Packages to U.S. military men and women serving overseas wait to be packed at First United Methodist Church, Coral Springs. Member Cheryl Price spearheaded the start of the church's Military Mission Project after a package sent to her son while he was serving with the U.S. Air Force in Korea was lost. Photo by Steven Price, Photo #06-346.

Price told this story to Ken Beers, the missions director at First United Methodist Church of Coral Springs, and soon this one lost package became the catalyst for the church’s Military Mission Project. That was two years ago.

Price and Beers’ mission was to send a card or package to the men and women from their church who were serving in the military. Soon, they expanded the mission outreach to “anyone who knew someone in the military.” After a couple of months, 35 men and women were on their mailing list.

“At Christmas time, we received a letter from a chaplain. He stated that he had 2,500 men that did not have access to a PX and relied on getting packages from the states for basic hygiene items,” Price said. “We did a big pack and ship party. Our youth got involved and many members of the church. The congregation, the youth, even the little ones in the Sunday School and Sandwich Club made cards. We were able to mail packages to 1,000 men and women.

“A little extra shopping for deodorant, candy, some beef jerky, a card, prayers and words of encouragement go a long way.”

The Military Mission Project has since set up a collection bin in the church. Each week, members of the congregation donate items the ministry can pack up and ship. Some church members give donations directly to support this ministry.

“… Cheryl Price has received a hundred e-mails and pictures from solders and sailors in Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey who received her care packages. I read most of the e-mails, and they give praise and glory to God for the church, the ministry and the gifts,” said the Rev. Frank Fitzsimmons, associate pastor at the church. “The care packages bring joy and hope and a little bit of home to our kids so far away. The story of this work is a powerful testimony of how God works through people who reach out of their comfort zone to relieve the suffering of our young men and women in harm’s way.”

CPT Matthew Arnold is one of the soldiers stationed in Iraq who has received a package from the church. He wrote a letter to the congregation soon after battling a kidnap-murder ring near Baghdad. He thanked members for two packages he had received that were filled with snacks, soap, shampoo and similar items.

“The great variety of snacks included insured there was something for everybody, and we all send our deepest thanks,” Arnold wrote. “My team commander is a big fan of Easter Peeps so he especially sends his thank you. We all thank you very much for remembering us and making today a little brighter.”

Anthony Gucciardo is serving with the US Navy in Iraq. He received a card from the church thanking him for his service and signed by a number of church members. He sent a letter in response, thanking the church for their “heart-felt thoughts and prayers.” “Your letters, cards, packages and prayers have a profound affect on not only the Service Member, but our families, as well,” he wrote. “A ‘normal’ deployment is challenging enough for military families. When you add the circumstances of the current conflict, those challenges compound themselves. As our immediate families struggle to persevere, we are shored up by the kindness, spirit and love freely given by fellow Americans like you. I thank you; my family thanks you.”

The church mission team hopes the Military Mission Project will catch on and other churches will begin a similar ministry so every soldier might be able to receive a package every month.

“They are the heroes,” Price said. “We can make such a difference in their lives by doing just a small thing by sending letters or packages.”


This article relates to Outreach.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a freelance writer based in Beverly Hills, Fla. His columns appear in the Naples Sun Times newspaper and Faith & Tennis magazine.