Birthday benefit for overseas troops expands due to success
One of the few truly positive trends to come from social media these days is the idea of picking a charity to give to in honor of someone’s birthday. For Tri-State resident Liza Dixon, last year she chose to put together a package drive for our soldiers who are in harm’s way, filling up boxes with goodies and much-needed personal hygiene items for our best, bravest and brightest who are stationed overseas.
With all of the political and cultural turmoil that is happening here domestically in the U.S. right now, the focus is not on our deployed troops like it used to be after 9/11 and the years that followed. So, Dixon stepped up to the plate.
As Dixon’s idea grew last year, volunteers gathered together to fill up the care packages, schoolkids wrote notes and drew pictures for the troops and local sponsors stepped up in many wonderful ways. It was, by all accounts, a success, especially after hearing back from the soldiers who received the packages.
It was supposed to be a onetime affair; however, when Dixon’s birthday came up on the horizon this year the decision was made to do it all over again. Now, with the April 22 deadline looming, the Care Packages For Soldiers project is bigger and better than ever before. But, that also means that they need more help, including funds and monetary gifts to make it a truly successful and local grassroots effort.
Here is how you can be a part of this important and impressive movement to support our troops overseas.
On Friday, March 22, there will be a very special Tunes for Troops benefit show at the Getfiddle Custom Music Shop in Ashland, from 5 to 7 p.m. With music provided by Alan Guy, The Settlement and Holly and the Guys, and all proceeds will go to the cause. The cover will be either $5 (or more if you want to donate) or four items to be put into the packages.
Another benefit will take place at the V Club on April 11 with music provided by the Heavy Hitters, Shelem, Berth and Massing. The show begins at 9 p.m. and tickets for this Care Packages For Soldiers benefit will be $7.
All of this leads up to the Care Packages For Soldiers Box Packing Night, which will take place on April 22 at the Ashland Elks Lodge #350, located at 900 Carter Ave. Volunteers are needed and live music and food will be provided for all who attend.
As far as what Dixon is requesting per the items that will be sent to the soldiers, the key is to bring travel-size containers of such products as baby powder, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, lip balm, shampoo and more. Remember that feminine hygiene items are also needed.
Small food items are also requested by our troops stationed out in the middle of nowhere, such as small packages of peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, hard candy, seasonings, microwave popcorn and various breakfast and snack bars. Non-food items are also needed, including playing cards, magazines, puzzle books, pen, paper and stamps for letters, antibiotic creams, eye drops, salves and ointments, storage bags and more.
Donation boxes have been set up at the following Tri-State companies and government offices: Kendras Korner, Ashland YMCA, Hu nti ng ton YMCA, Divas, Cafe 1947, Carter Christian Academy, Grayson Fire Department, M&B PawnShop, Carter County Property Valuation Administrators offices, Boyd County Property Valuation Administrators office, Caribbean Sun, Buffalo Market, Horton and Brown Pharmacy, 84 Lumber, Dixie Park Freewill Baptist Church, City National Bank inside Kings Daughters Medical Center, Hope Central-Ashland, New Hope Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Christ Temple Church, Pactolus United Methodist Church, Hopewell United Methodist Church, Ashland Elks Club, Grayson Jail, Westwood Christian Church, Second Hand Rose on 13th Street in Ashland, Ashland Daily Independent and the East Fork United Methodist Church.
As for monetary donations, sponsors and individuals can help with the all important funds it takes to ship the boxes overseas. Look for a PayPal account with the email address email@example.com.
“We are hoping that the fundraisers we are doing along with the donations we get and the money from sponsors who want to help will raise the needed funds to ship these packages to our troops overseas,” said Liza Dixon. “Texas Roadhouse Steak House restaurant in Ashland, for instance, came on board saying that they will give a free appetizer to anyone who donates four needed items.”
When Dixon first got this idea, her goals were very modest as far as the boxes she would send to the soldiers deployed across the globe.
“When my husband and I first talked about it and after I came up with the idea, my goal was to send maybe 10, 20 or 30 boxes,” said Dixon. “I had no ideas as to the support that I would get after I got started the drive. Last year, in the first year, we were able to raise over $3,500 for shipping costs and we sent 218 boxes to the troops located in 13 countries. We split the boxes half and half between the 123rd Airlift Wing based in Louisville, Kentucky, and other various troops from different branches if the military deployed in Afghanistan. Now, we are looking to send at least 400 boxes overseas and even more if we can. The shipping costs will be about $4,300 and we are not there yet, but we will be raising funds until April 22.”
This is amazing accomplishment for a citizen-led effort and the bottom line is simple. If the Care Packages For Soldiers cause can raise more funds for shipping and gather more items to be boxed up and can get volunteers to box those items on April 22, then our troops will benefit from this important event in immeasurable ways.
Dixon had no plans to do the drive a second year, but a message from a soldier overseas turned her head around.
“We just didn’t get the drive together in time, but then I received a message from a soldier in Afghanistan this past January and that changed my mind,” said Dixon. “He sent me pictures from his outpost, and the living conditions were just bleak. The circumstances were terrible. He said that the troops were being limited to some MREs and a few bottles of water a day.
“He told me that he would have $200 sent to me to get me started if I would run this drive again. So I said yes, and it has been building ever since. It is a lot of work. But once I get all of the needed money together it will be a relief off of my shoulders. I want to be able to ship all of the items that we collect.”
More information can be found at www.facebook.com/CarePackagesForSoldiersKy/. Liza Dixon’s phone number is 606-694 6486.