The Lee Memorial Health System Military Support Program is holding an Easter fund-raiser to help raise funds to continue its support of sending care packages to local soldiers who are deployed overseas.
Lee Memorial Health System Military Support Coordinator Kim Gaide said they began working with the Mason's Bakery and the HoneyBaked Ham Company in 2003 for Thanksgiving and Christmas and in 2004 for Easter. Since then, have held the fundraisers for Easter and Thanksgiving only, which raises between $2,000 and $4,000 each time.
"We first started out small with chili dog sales and bake sales," Gaide said.
Ann Boehm, who has been a volunteer for the past three years decided to help with the fund raiser for the first time this year by coordinating the orders, helping with order distribution and paperwork for the Easter fund raiser.
After witnessing what takes place when the care boxes are packed to be sent to the soldiers, Boehm said she got hooked. Boehm said she enjoys packing the boxes because a soldier who received one of their packages stopped by to see them.
"They come and say thank you," she said. "It is very moving."
The fund raiser will offer the option of purchasing spiral -cut ham, roasted and smoked turkey breast, cajun turkey, honey baked barbecued pork roast, barbecued pork ribs and beef pot roast, along with many sides. The meats range in price from $25 to $55. The desserts include apple, coconut cream, chocolate cream, peanut butter cream and key lime pie for $12, along with a $15 Easter bunny cake and a $25 fruit basket cake. The mini assorted dessert box is $20.
As of Thursday, Boehm said they have received 75 order forms. She said when individuals try the program for the first time they become repeat customers year after year, along with telling others, which attracts even more people.
"Hospital employees and volunteers are very supportive of the program," Boehm said.
The deadline to place an order is April 15 and can be done by calling (239) 209-6160.
Gaide said the money they raise will go towards their care package fund, along with being used to purchase items that their soldiers or families need.
"We are here to support our troops and our families," she said. "We will not stop until the last soldier comes home."
Boehm said every penny goes back to the military and the fund raisers are why can afford to pay for those boxes that go out every month.
Since May 2003, they have sent almost 35,000 pounds of care packages to the soldiers, which equates to helping 979 local soldiers and their families.
"We are a very dedicated group of employees, volunteers and military families who are here to support those families and troops who are currently deployed," she said.
Last month Boehm said they shipped 55 care packages to soldiers, which included items that they request, along with a few goodies. She said that number varies every month due a soldier coming home and another one leaving.
"The box is full by the time we are done," she said about the donated items.
On average, more than 50 boxes are sent out every month.
Other projects that the Military Support organization supports is providing helmet liners for the troops every year. Gaide said she has "the recipe on how to make them" if anyone is interested in creating a crochet or knit helmet liner. They also collect coupons to send out to their military families home and abroad.
"We 'adopt' our families who may need assistance while their soldier is away," Gaide said.
Anyone who wished to offer any services can call Gaide at (239) 209-6160.