BY MELANIE BUCK –
Almost 500 soldiers currently stationed in Afghanistan received a bit of love from Mena, Arkansas recently, in the form of care packages, courtesy of a trio of local churches. Members of First Baptist Church of Mena, Dallas Avenue Baptist Church, and Yocana Baptist Church made it their mission to assure a battalion of soldiers that they haven’t been forgotten.
Russell Threat, Pastor at First Baptist Church, said the idea came when a friend of his from seminary school told him of the need. The friend, Chase Musick, is Chaplain of the 1-12 Infantry Battalion, “The Red Warriors,” from Fort Carson, Colorado and said the care packs give him an outlet to share the gospel.
With that vision, and many members of the churches, fundraisers were held and wanted items were collected. Some of the most wanted items soldiers requested included Ramen noodles, tuna, chips, candy, and hot sauce. “Each church divided the wanted items out and over a series of weeks, we gathered them from the church members. We gathered enough to make 500 packs,” explained Threat. “One specific item the soldiers requested was hot sauce. So, we called up the Louisiana Hot Sauce Company and they donated small ketchup style packages of hot sauce.”
Not only did the church members gather enough items to meet their goal, they were able to collect enough donations from individuals and businesses to pay for the shipping of 92 large boxes filled with the individual care packages.
“We also put little notes in their packages to say that we are praying for them and we consistently keep them in our prayers and that we appreciate their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families,” said Threat.
He also said that Chaplain Musick has contacted him since the packages have arrived in Afghanistan and reported that the soldiers have truly enjoyed the packs. Musick said that when the soldiers know that they have a physical or spiritual need, they can come to him and through the care packages, he’s had the opportunity to share the love of Christ with almost 500 people.
“I appreciate the cooperation of the Veteran’s organizations who were very helpful and all of those that contributed to the project. It’s nice to have churches and community organizations come together for a project like this,” Threat said.