While U.S. soldiers combat enemy forces in the Middle East and place their lives at risk daily to protect the banner of freedom, here at home in the lakes area a group of Wolverine Lake volunteers is “paying it forward” by partnering with a pair of agencies to pack up and distribute supplies to the men and women serving in the military overseas.
The packing event is held annually in honor of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth, son of Wolverine Lake Police Capt. John Ellsworth, who was killed in action Nov. 13, 2004 by a roadside bomb during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This year the village of Wolverine Lake is partnering with Operation Care Package Michigan and Support Military Working Dogs.
“Operation Care Package Michigan is in constant contact with troops on the battlefield and provides us with names and addresses; the Military K-9 agency, Support Military Working Dogs, sends items to handlers of K-9s on the battlefields, but is also in contact with trainers on bases here in the U.S. who deploy them overseas,” said event organizer and Wolverine Lake resident Joann Sullivan.
The packing party will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 13 at Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, 2905 S. Commerce Road in Wolverine Lake.
Volunteers are still needed to pitch in by either helping to pack the boxes, or donate items or dollars to the cause. Last year about 200 people showed up to support the troops.
Packing items or monetary donations may be delivered through Oct. 13 to Kristy Nedrow at 515 Laguna Court in Wolverine Lake.
“These supplies are badly needed for men and women deployed overseas to battle in Afghanistan and elsewhere — these are sent to forward deployed troops, those on the battlefield and not on bases stationed around the world,” Sullivan said.
Popular must-haves include pocket foods like granola bars, energy bars or instant items that only need water like instant coffee packets and oatmeal. Toiletry sundries are in high demand along with sox and bandanas, which are coveted items to help ward off perspiration.
For a full list of suggested supply items, visit www.ocpmi.com or www.wolverinelake.com.
“There was such an overwhelming response in the community last year,” Sullivan said. “We packed 522 boxes last year and the goal is 523 this year.”
Monetary donations are welcomed since it costs $13.45 to mail every box; checks may be made out to Operation Care Package Michigan or Support Military Working Dogs Michigan.
In addition to collecting items for soldiers or the dollars needed to send the boxes overseas, the organization is also collecting necessities and/or monetary donations for the K-9 organization.
Sullivan added that the biggest detriment to the military work dog is the scorching heat or bitter cold. To mitigate inclement weather conditions, cooling vests, paw booties, ear muffs and goggles are needed for protective wear. Hygiene items like eye and ear drops are also needed.