FLUVANNA – Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday with a united mission of making the holidays feel like home for men and women serving our nation overseas.
Susan Rowley, President of the Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie New York Chapter 4, was brought to tears as volunteers packaged boxes at Fluvanna Community Church filled with supplies but most of all the feeling of love for the holidays.
In total on Saturday volunteers packaged 712 care packages for troops overseas.
However Rowley’s mission is not complete, she is still looking to fill nearly 300 boxes in the next week.
“We had 1,000 names so I think we are still going to be collecting a few more items,” explained Rowley. “If anyone is interested they can contact us on our website, through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and just let us know if you’d like to donate.”
Rowley said they have around a week left to send the care packages so they will arrive by Christmas.
“All we know are the thank you notes that come afterwards,” said Rowley. “Our hallways are lined with them and it means everything to them (the troops), just a little card or a little something to know they are thought of, they are appreciated, and they are remembered.”
Rowley explained that it is hard for both the troops and their families during the holiday season.
“My son has been deployed at Christmas time, it is hard on us, but it is harder on him to be away from home.”
Another parent, Todd Hanson, has two sons severing in the armed forces. Hanson expressed his gratitude for those who helped on Saturday. He said there is an overwhelming amount of patriotism in Chautauqua County.
“Unless you’ve been here, been a part of it, is it is hard to understand,” explained Hanson. “We had 400 to 500 people here today plus all of the people who donated who helped us with the fundraisers throughout the year, it is just great to see the participation.”
Hanson said one of the reason’s groups like the Blue Star Mothers are successful is because most people living in Western New York are very community oriented.
“You don’t really see it in the news like you used to,” said Hanson. “Just recently there has been a few troops in Afghanistan, Special Forces, Rangers that have been killed in combat and it doesn’t get publicized very well as far as the importance of what they’ve done for our country.”
Rowley is very thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who turned out to help the Blue Star Mothers.
“I will quote Senator Young: ‘We live in the best part of New York State’ I believe it whole heartily and I’ve seen it over and over.”
Those interested in helping the Blue Star Mother’s complete their mission can learn more at BlueStarMothersWNY.org.