Troop Box Ministries, an organization devoted to providing relief and making the lives of American men and women fighting for our country overseas a little bit easier by sending them care packages from home, held its annual bluegrass and southern gospel music fund-raising concert at the St. Bernadette Church in Amelia March 24.
Attracting more than 200 people, this year’s fund-raiser collected close to $5,000; all proceeds and donations go towards helping send care packages to all our military men and women stationed around the globe.
“Troop Box Ministries is committed to doing whatever it takes to support our troops stationed all over the world,” said founder Diana Lawrence. “We send care packages and letters every month and the wonderful feedback that we get from our soldiers has been extraordinary.”
Started in early 2001 by Diana Lawrence and her sister Jean Johnston (they had no official name at that time), Troop Box Ministries is a not-for-profit organization that began as a small effort out of their family garage. It has grown over the years and branched out into many other areas, expanding its mission of sending our troops needed items.
Just recently, they started coordinating their efforts with a medic who operates a free clinic in Iraq. This medic serves "the poorest of the poor" Iraqis, who walk for miles and miles in the cold to seek medical attention. Most are shoeless and wrapped in tarps, old blankets, and ratty curtains, Lawrence said.
"In addition to sending our own soldiers needed items, we send this medic five to six boxes a month," Lawrence said. "He needs children and infant supplies the most. He takes what we send him and distributes to these poor people. He has told us that they are shocked and grateful to receive something for nothing."
Last year alone, Troop Box Ministries sent approximately 300 boxes overseas that totalled more than 3,000 pounds; a total of six boxes are sent every week, or 30-60 boxes a month, and this year they hope on sending even more.
More than 30 volunteers helped organize and run this year' fund raiser, which included a silent auction.
Keith and Carolyn Maupin, the parents of missing U.S. soldier Matt Maupin, were in attendance at the fund raiser spreading awareness and encouraging donations to the Troop Box Ministries and the Yellow Ribbon Support Center.
The emcee was classic country 99.5 air personality Bill Cornetet and entertainment was provided by The Southernaires of Dayton, The Old Path bluegrass group, and the Phil Lawrence family of Winchester.
As Troop Box Ministries continue to expand and grow, their noble mission continues.
"The reaction from our soldiers has been tremendous," Lawrence said. "They love receiving the boxes. They have told us that it is like getting a letter from home. They are all so very grateful to realize that no one has forgotten them and that is our goal."
For more information or to donate money or items (they are in need of clothes, especially for infants, and babywipes) contact Diana Lawrence at (937) 379-1291, or e-mail at TroopBoxMinistry@yahoo.com.