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franklin county times

Letting them know we care

Residents of Country Living in Hamilton, Ala. make Valentine's Day cards for a Phil Campbell soldier currently stationed on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.
Residents of Country Living in Hamilton, Ala. make Valentine’s Day cards for a Phil Campbell soldier currently stationed on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

Care packages are sent to military service men and women all over the world to let them know how appreciated they are and how important their work is to all Americans. For some local members of the armed forces, those packages can mean everything.

While her son, Sgt. Michael Heath is currently stationed at an Air Force base in Pensacola Fla., Sheila Porter said she remembered how special it was when her son received care packages.

During the two tours Heath served, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, the care packages were the only thing to remind him of home.

“Anytime care packages come its something special,” Porter said.

Porter said whenever her son and his fellow soldiers received gifts from family, friends or churches, it let them know that even in the harshest conditions, there were people at home thinking of them.

Some gifts sent were candy or comfort items that reminded service men and women of home.

Porter said her niece sent Heath a pinecone sealed in a sandwich bag. The scent traveled overseas and when Heath opened the bag, he was able to have a piece of Alabama with him.

“One time I sent a Bible, just a small one from the dollar store, and I wrote a note and highlighted scripture; Psalms 91,” she said. “I never know when he’s going to deploy out again. Both times he was deployed I just put him in God’s hands.”

Porter said men and women overseas need simple things, such as toiletries, lip balm and toothpaste.

“There are commissary items there, but items from home mean more,” she said. “All soldiers have some problems coming home but gifts from home make a world of difference. Just to have that one card that says ‘I care,’ ‘be safe,’ that’s something they can hold on to.”

Throughout year, it depends on if they have supportive family and friends, whether some soldiers receive gifts, Porter said.

“Some soldiers don’t have a home base and even gifts from strangers mean the world to them,” she said.

Porter said she would send extra gifts for her son to share among his fellow service people.

She said even though she’s never met some of her son’s friends face to face, they know her as “Mama” because of the words and gifts she’s sent.

“They become closer than brothers and sisters,” she said. “Even though we’ve never met those are my kids.”

Residents of Country Place Living in Hamilton, Ala. made Valentine’s Day cards to send to men and women on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson including Jeff Wilbanks of Phil Campbell who is currently stationed on the ship.

One resident, Joel Palmer, is a retired member of the United States Army. He came up with the idea to send cards and gifts to the locals who are currently deployed.