PLYMOUTH, Maine — Though the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have raged for years, support for the men and women fighting them has not waned at Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church in Plymouth.
Members of the church — for the eighth time in the past four years — are gathering razors, batteries, magazines and many other items to send to four military personnel in Afghanistan and three in Iraq.
It’s a small gesture considering all the people serving in uniform, said Linda Seavey, but the compassion propelling it looms large.
“Our church is small, but we’re big supporters of the troops,” she said Sunday while she and others sorted items that will be sent out a week from today. “We need to show appreciation for the sacrifice they’re making for us and for our country.”
Included in the boxes are also notes and cards of appreciation from church members. Beverly Philbrick, who teaches Sunday school to the congregation’s third- and fourth-graders, added four handmade cards to that pile. Conversation among the children during their construction centered on what it must be like to be a service member abroad.
“We talked about how they’re not with their families for the holidays,” Philbrick said.
A Cub Scout troop and a group of area home-schoolers are two groups who have contributed to the cause regularly.
The effort started four years ago for the benefit of Seavey’s nephew, Aaron Hawthorne, who was stationed in Iraq at the time. All of the personnel who have benefited since then have had some connection to the church or the Plymouth community. Witnessing the struggles and anguish of the families left behind is a powerful reason to keep the project going, said Seavey.
Thinking about it often moves her and another volunteer, Amie Knight of Plymouth, to tear up as they did Sunday.
“Doing this is something from her heart,” said Seavey of Knight. “She has three sons. We might be doing this for her boys someday.”
Knight said her effort is about helping where it’s needed.
“We just wanted to do some outreach,” she said.
The more items that are donated, the more generous this shipment will be, which is why the church is appealing to the public to pitch in.
Baby wipes packaged individually are prized by soldiers without ready access to bathrooms. Bulk containers dry out before they can be used. Razors, nonperishable snacks, hygiene items and magazines are also sought, as are batteries sized AA and AAA. In each of the packages are also assorted candies and small toys which are given to Iraqi and Afghan children as gestures of goodwill.
Items for the next shipment, which leaves Monday, Dec. 7, may be dropped at Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church on Route 7 in Plymouth. Donations may be left at the church at any time. For information, call Seavey at 257-4223.