Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Hands were flying as sample-sized deodorants and hand lotions, magazines, T-shirts, crackers, peanut butter and toaster pastries disappeared into U.S. Postal Service mailing boxes.
Within minutes, an assembly line of sorts had been formed as five area women worked together in a packing ballet where each movement was carefully choreographed.
Four stood around a long table in the ACCESS offices in Jacksonville, while Julianne Sanford, Lone Star Military Resource Group/ACCESS Military Services Resource Coordinator, moved around making sure donated items were organized and easily accessible.
For the fifth time, the Lone Star Military Resource Group was packing care packages to send to troops overseas. The last time the group did this, at Christmas, recipients were so pleased, said Glenna Wilson, who was there helping.
"He said it was so good to see something from home," she recalled.
The ladies laughed.
"They said it was the most interesting box they'd ever gotten," Sanford added.
Some 15 boxes were being packed Tuesday morning, most bound for Afghanistan and some headed to Africa. They were being filled with everything from candy to playing cards, puzzle books, stationary, even maps of the local area, property books and T-shirts donated by the Texas State Railroad.
"We're recruiting them to come home and move back where they are loved," Sanford said, dropping a map and a real estate book into one box.
The boxes are going to soldiers who are loved ones of area families. Along with the soldiers they know personally, the Lone Star Military Resource Group solicits names and addresses from other local families and will send care packages to their overseas heroes as well.
The group collects donations for the care packages all year. Non-perishable items, travel-sized toiletries (which are carefully packed into zipper-locked plastic bags), magazines, batteries, writing paper, and other items are welcome. Groups from Cornerstone Church in Tyler, members of the military group, Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville and area school children donated items for the Valentine's boxes.
"After you've done this for a few times, you get a little neurotic," Sanford said, laughing, as she and Courtney Sammons revealed how they've discovered that small pouches of fruit snacks make the perfect packing material.
For this group of boxes, the Lonestar Military Resource Group is still missing Valentine cards for the troops. If you would like to donate Valentines (or anything else) please deliver them to the ACCESS office, 913 N. Jackson St., during business hours. The boxes will be mailed on Friday and should take about 14 days to arrive.