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Lexington based organization continues its care package mission to those in military service

Stu Johnson

A Lexington organization has been sending out well-wishes worldwide to U.S. service men and women for close to two decades. Military Missions is once again right in the midst of its holiday-time-focused care package campaign.

The back and side walls of the Military Missions collections and distribution center feature six shelves and lots of boxes marked with words like pens, bibles, socks, Vienna sausage, fruit snacks, crackers, cookies, and gum. Charlotte Guarneros was looking for volunteer opportunities after retiring and moving to Lexington four years ago. Guarneros, the wife of a veteran said this sort of thing means a lot to those serving.

“I like the service that we provide for the soldiers that are deployed overseas and being able to send them just something to let them know that we are thinking about them and that they’re not forgotten,” said Guarneros.

Volunteers have been working to fill more than 18 hundred boxes to send out. Kim Page has been involved with Military Missions for 15 years, getting word of the program through her Sunday School class. She does it to honor an uncle who was a World War II veteran.

“We’re sending things to people who are out there sacrificing. We have no idea the sacrifices that these kids, I call them kids, are making for us. They’re living in tents and not being with their family and seeing their children grow up and suffering horrendous injuries and it’s the least we can do is send them a box from home,” said Page.

Stu Johnson

Gary Brothers said when he retired, his wife wanted to get him out of the house, she knew of Military Missions, he came over to get out of the house and he said it’s been the best thing he’s ever done. On this night the Marine Corps veteran welcomes some Boy Scouts who came to help out.

“We’ve got to do a shipment here at Christmas about two thousand items that has to get there before Christmas. And what we’re going to do tonight, we’re gonna make these things which are gallon bags which go in a unit box,” said Brothers.

Stu Johnson

Boy scouts from Troop 322 gathered up items to put in the bags for soldiers. Aaron Rogers is the scoutmaster for the Lexington unit.

“We’ve got a lot of military in our troop as leaders and some of the dads are military and my dad is military so it’s really important that we can contribute in this small way,” said Rogers.

Rogers’ son said his grandfather is the one who inspires him because he wants to go into the military someday.

Stu Johnson

One of the volunteers with several years of involvement in Military Missions is Jo Neuzel. She has always felt the ability to send messages of appreciation in written form is important.

“I immediately gravitated towards the cards because I like the idea of them getting a touch of home. And we put at least ten cards in each package so they get a greeting card from ten people and I just think that that’s a wonderful thing to do,” said Neuzel.

“This just helps us keep track of how many we’ve done. Each mark is ten box. My career was warehousing and inventory control and distribution and all that good stuff over 50 years experience, so I’m in heaven in here,” said Drake.

Vietnam Veteran Sam Drake is keeping up with the tote board as scouts and other volunteers gathered up supplies. Drake pointed out a card received by Military Missions, from an Air Force captain.

“He said when they came back from a mission they were so happy, all these boxes were piled up in front of the barracks. And what’s interesting about his card. His sister-in-law works in UK HealthCare. That is pretty cool. Send something overseas and they have a connection back to Lexington,” said Drake.

The effort to send care packages to U.S. service men and women comes during a time of high-profile conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as other global hot spots. Drake, who noted Vietnam War veterans were treated poorly in many respects, said it’s just human to have people both for and against when it comes to the use of military force.

The last Military Missions box for this holiday period is expected to go out in the next few days. Volunteer Charlotte Guarneros said the shelves will be cleared off and the work to restock them for the Easter mailing will then begin.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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