'Adopt-A-Chaplain' organizer gets direct orders to continue program for fifth year
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Annie Trail wondered, after her most recent chaplain returned from military service in the Middle East, if she should continue her involvement in the "Adopt-A-Chaplain" program, as she had done for at least seven or eight years.
She told her husband, Dick, "I'll say a prayer ... let God decide."
Two days later, Annie's answer came in the form of an e-mail from a chaplain who had received some of Annie's boxes of goodies. Capt. Josh Shaver wrote, "Thank you so much for the boxes you sent to my soldiers and me last year. ... I want you to know how much we appreciated the packages and the decorated notes. The timing of these packages was perfect."
"Wow," Annie said, touching her heart. "I took that as a sign, my answer from God. And I made the decision to continue based on Capt. Shaver's letter."
So, for the fifth Christmas, Annie is involving the community of McCook in her "Adopt-A-Chaplain" project. She will mail the care packages to three chaplains at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Fenty, FOB Lightning and FOB Kuwait, in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Annie is collecting small items that the soldiers really appreciate and is accepting monetary donations to pay for shipping. Each box costs a flat rate of $14.85 to mail. "Last year, it was $12.35 per box," Ann said.
Ann also accepts special notes and Christmas cards that she tucks into each box. "The Christmas notes are appreciated so much by the soldiers," Ann said. "Especially when they're far from home for the holidays."
"I am so blessed doing this project," Ann said, "and so appreciative of the support from the community."
Annie mailed 111 boxes at Christmas time last year, and others throughout the year.
Annie has a donation deadline of Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, so that she and her corps of volunteers can get the boxes packed and mailed in time for them to arrive half-way around the world before Christmas.
Donations can be taken to Annie at 201 West M (the east door of the brick duplex home facing the south, at the corner of West First and M streets) or mailed to that address. For more information, contact Annie at (308) 345-3578.
These are the items Annie likes to pack into her care packages:
Personal care items: Chapstick, deodorant for men, hand and foot warmers and razors. "Bar soap is OK, but they seem to prefer body wash, as long as it's not too fragrant," Ann said.
Entertainment: CD music, game books, crossword and word searches, Sudoku. "I like to send DVD movies -- new or used. I'm happy to recycle those," Ann said.
Foods, beverages: Coffee Mate and coffee, all flavors; hot chocolate packages, hot cider packets, single drink mixes for water.
Individual cups of macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, microwave popcorn, power bars, granola bars, individual packages of trail mix and nuts, chewing gum, all flavors of sunflower seeds. "Oh, they love hot sauce and salsa," Annie said. "And beef jerky. They love beef jerky. And squirt cheese and crackers. Oh, and sardines and Spam -- all flavors of Spam."
Annie said she knows many people who go shopping for items on her list, and then deliver them to her home. "If you don't want to go shopping, make a donation and I'll do the shopping," she offered, with a smile.