To thank those who are currently serving abroad, the Blue Star Mothers will be sending Easter packages to deployed soldiers.
Following a successful Christmas campaign in which 435 boxes of goods were shipped overseas to American soldiers, the Blue Star Mothers of America Lake Erie Chapter 4 are hosting an Easter drive to help give soldiers abroad a reason to celebrate the holiday.
"There is such a need at these forward operating bases," said Susan Rowley, president of Lake Erie Chapter 4. "They don't have access to (commodities they are used to at home), so the care packages we ship them are the closet they come to being home. When they get the snacks and magazines we send them, or really, it doesn't even matter what they get for the most part, they just appreciate being remembered.
Michele King is seen building care packages for the past drive the Blue Star Mothers hosted.
"Our community has been wonderful," continued Rowley. "I almost hated to ask for more help already, since everyone was wonderful at Christmas, but there's so much need out there that we want to send out more packages to our troops."
According to Rowley, soldiers who are used to spending holidays with their family or spouses who are instead stationed overseas truly appreciate the gesture, and many have said that receiving these care packages are the closest they get to being home for the holidays.
Although the Blue Star Mothers have set out collection boxes around the county and are getting ready to mail out the Easter care packages Saturday, there is still time to donate if anyone in the county is interested.
Food items which the Blue Star Mothers are accepting for their care packages are: Pop Tarts, canned fruit, canned ravioli, Spaghetti-O's, soup (pull-top lid only), canned chips, pretzels, snacks (no bagged snacks), cheese-and-cracker snack packs, tuna, chicken, salmon foil packs, granola and breakfast snack bars, pepperoni, beef jerky, sunflowers seeds, nuts, drink mixes, instant coffee, sugar and creamer.
Non-food items which the Blue Star Mothers are accepting are: lip balm, eye drops, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, wipes (such as baby wipes), foot powder, baby powder, sun screen, pens, writing paper, men's white crew socks, boxers, flip-flops, sun-glasses, games, puzzle books, CDs and DVDs (no DVDs about war), magazines, paperback books, small American flags and other small patriotic items.
Also, for those who are interested in helping put together the care packages, the Blue Star Mothers will be meeting at Zion Lutheran Church in Frewsburg at 9 a.m. on Saturday to begin building the packages. Because the post office closes at noon on Saturday, the Blue Star Mothers are requesting as much help as possible to build the care packages.
Additionally, any donations can be received at Zion Lutheran Church on Saturday up until 11 a.m. Otherwise, donations can still be made at the following locations: Corner Coffeehouse and Bistro in Frewsburg, Jefferson Terrace Hair Salon and Spa, Starbucks in Lakewood, Chautauqua County Building in Mayville, The Resource Center in Jamestown, Hewes Education Center, the Prendergast Library, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Mayville, the town of Chautauqua offices and Diamond Cafe in Jamestown.
"For our Christmas drive, it was heart-warming to see how many people in our community contributed, and generally just watching it all come together," said Rowley. "For the last drive, we spent over $5,500 in postage alone. We asked the community for help, and it responded by donating nearly the exact same amount as we spent on postage ... it just warms my heart to know that our community is there for our soldiers when they need us. It's a beautiful thing."