California Group Packs Church, Packages, to Recognize Military Appreciation Month
By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 15, 2009 For the last five years, the California-based troop-support group, Their Angels, have met every first Saturday, monthly, to pack civilian care packages and write letters of support to send to deployed troops. On May 2, the volunteers brought together 100 people in honor of Military Appreciation Month.
Army Sgt. First Class Luis Green talks to Their Angels volunteers at the Military Appreciation Month ceremony held at Hilltop Church of Christ in Richmond, Calif., May 2, 2009. The volunteers expressed their gratitude to Green for his service.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“We decided to extend an invitation to our active-duty military personnel, their families and veterans to come and be our honored guests,” said Marva Lyons, president of Their Angels. “We also offered a special prayer on behalf of those that have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. We just wanted to salute them all for their service.”
Nearly 100 people gathered at the Hilltop Church of Christ in Richmond, Calif., for the celebration. Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia spoke to the group about the importance of being involved with troop-support groups.
Students from Tara Hills Elementary in San Pablo recited a poem, "The Pride of Our Country." Military families gave updates on their deployed family members and veterans had the opportunity to introduce themselves and tell when and where they served.
“I really enjoyed the event,” said Denise Marshall-Thomas, whose son participated. “It was a good learning experience for the students – to meet the troops and the veterans, to hear about their experiences. I was so happy the event included young people. My son, Isaiah, loved it.”
Army Sgt. First Class Luis Green, who served a tour in Iraq, along with others, was welcomed with hand shakes, tears, hugs and thanks as the guests waited in line to express personal gratitude for their service.
“As a special surprise, we prepared special notes of thanks that were distributed to the veterans,” Lyons said.
Following the reception, about 80 attendees gathered to pack 500 care packages, each with a special note tucked inside. The packages included razors, Band-Aids, wet wipes, pencils, candy, Kool-aid, cookies, crackers and granola bars, among other things.
“We work tirelessly each month to continue this tradition,” Lyons said. “While the work we do on behalf of our troops is appreciated, we continue to look for ways to fund our monthly packing.”
For the groups’ efforts in arranging the Military Appreciation Month program, the Diablo Corvette Club presented them with a $750 check for their continued support of deployed troops.
Their Angels has assembled and shipped more than 14,000 care packages to deployed troops since 2004, according to the group’s Web site.