Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) The Richfield 4-H is holding a care package drive for the 115th Fighter Wing currently stationed in Afghanistan in honor of a local family.
Alan and Stephanie Hughes, along with their three sons Bryce (9), Gavin (7), and Derek (2), operate a 60-cow herd at Sunsett Dairy near Pittsville. Alan, an aircraft mechanic, carried on a family history of military service by joining the Wisconsin Air National Guard about five years ago. Today he’s an F-16 crew chief for the 115th and will remain in Afghanistan until early November.
Since the family is involved in 4-H, the club decided it was a good opportunity to send over care packages as a community service project.
“Anything is appreciated. Anything. It could be a nickel,” said Stephanie. “These men and women are away from their families, and these families back home are just waiting for them to come back home safe. To brighten their day just once, just for a second, means a lot to them. They appreciate it more than anyone knows.”
Through an Adopt a Soldier program by the base, the 4-H will get to address packages to two specific individuals. “It’s fun to have a name and not just a group,” she said.
The supplies will also benefit those at the base who may not typically receive many deliveries from home or who could just use the items.
Drop-off locations for supplies are located at the UW – Extension office (Suite 102 of the Wood County Courthouse in Wisconsin Rapids), AgCountry Farm Credit Services in Marshfield, plus the Junior Fair Office (located in the Junior Expo Building) during the Central Wisconsin State Fair.
“We put the boxes up all over the fair for people to put snacks and stuff in,” said Bryce. Through 4-H, he’s exhibiting his Jersey calf Porsche, the granddaughter of the first calf he showed at the fair when he was 5.
Once items are collected, the 4-H will put together boxes to send to the base. Hannah Hensel, 16, a farmhand at Sunsett Dairy and a close friend of the family, is helping collect the items.
The family recently sent Alan a package and enjoyed watching him open it up on Skype. The box included a surprise added on behalf of his youngest son, Gavin.
“We had a diaper where we took chocolate and put it in the microwave and it melted, and that was one of things we sent to him,” Bryce said.
“My kids are like, ‘I bet he misses changing dirty diapers!’” said Stephanie.
The box also included a teddy bear which will join the airmen in the cockpit. After a mission is completed, the bear gets a signed certificate from the pilot as a souvenir to bring back to the kids.
Since there isn’t much to do at base during downtime, anything that helps the soldiers to pass the time or spruce up their space is appreciated.
Items that can be dropped off include encouraging messages, earbuds or headphones, books or book gift cards, snacks, water flavor packets, non-perishable microwavable meals, personal hygiene items, baby wipes, socks, twin bed sheets and pillow cases, decks of cards, hand-held games, water balloons, stationary, decorative magnets or small posters, and any other items that members of the unit may enjoy.
Cash donations are also accepted toward the shipping costs, which is about $19 per box. Aerosol cans, chocolate or other perishable foods, and tobacco cannot be included.
Donations will be accepted through September 30. Questions can be directed to Stephanie Hughes at 715-307-1520.