The Soldiers' Family Christmas program provided food, gift cards and toys to families at Fort Campbell for the fourth year in a row. Brother Joe Carrico, who works with the Democratic Women's Club and AGAPE to organize the outreach, delivering the gifts to soldiers and their families was a wonderful experience.
“You ought to have seen those little kids,” Carrico said. He recalled one soldier, with a big basket of gifts in his arms, saying, “You really don't know what this means to me.”
Lt. Stephen Toumajan, who helped organize the distribution of the goods, said he and the soldiers were touched by the generosity of the people of Logan County.
Among the items taken to Fort Campbell this year were 70 boxes of food with turkeys, $1,000 in gift cards, shoe boxes filled with toys and 21 new bicycles. The shoe boxes were prepared by students in Logan County. Olmstead School provided 25 boxes and Lewisburg School donated over 60 boxes.
The Soldiers' Family Christmas began in 2003 when Russellville resident Pat Hedges wanted to do something for our nation's soldiers. She got Martha Jane King, the Democratic Women's Club and Carrico involved and it grew from there. Although they first planned to send items to soldiers, their focus switched to soldiers' families at the request of the soldiers themselves. The effort has focused on the 7th Battalion at Fort Campbell, and this year the troops were home for Christmas.
Each year, as a way of saying thanks and showing support to the soldiers, a banner with hundreds of signatures has been created and sent to the soldiers. This year, Carrico, King and Hedges delivered the banner to Fort Campbell. Included in the names and messages was the signature of former President Bill Clinton.
Carrico said raising the money and collecting the gifts for the soldiers and their families is truly a community effort. As part of the effort, the Russellville Fire Department, the Recreation Department and the Cemetery Department had road blocks for Toys for Tots. Many others gave generously of their time and money.
Although the Soldiers' Family Christmas began as a way to help out during the war, Hedges said she hopes Logan County will continue to show love and support to the soldiers even after the war is over.
“There will always be a need,” she said.