Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

Sept. 6, 2004

Shoeboxes for soldiers touch lives

Readers of the Waverly Star supply so much wonderful material that The Waverly Star just writes itself, week after week.

This just came from Tom Kingstedt, a member of the distinguished Wright County family of Kingstedts, who go way back in our history. He told me about a program that is pure Minnesota and is now spreading across the nation.

Here’s how Tom described it: “You might also be interested in a ‘small’ show of faith my church exhibited that turned into a huge outpouring of support for the troops.

A pastor, Dave Brown, from Pilgrim United Methodist Church in Plymouth, had an idea from his communications with a soldier/pastor friend to support ‘shoe boxes for soldiers.’ Simply put, you assemble a shoe box of goodies, cards, treats, pens, or whatever and include a note.

“They get sent on to a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq. These items are not the ordinary thing for a GI to get so they do greatly appreciate a taste of home: a book, some chewing gum or some playing cards.

“Initially we thought the congregation would come up with two-three hundred and our budget would cover that.

On July 4, they had a send-off of boxes. We had veterans and a live band to kick it off. Some media coverage occurred as a feel good piece on the TV news and in the local paper. As word spread of what we were doing, many people from all over Minnesota started sending in boxes.

“So far, we have over 900 and counting.

“We have also been in touch with families of soldiers and they have given us the names of many soldier/platoons and companies that would be excited to receive such a gift of support.

“But, as I mentioned, the budget was only able to support mailing out 2-3 hundred. Well, we started to receive boxes with nothing in them, but money. Corporate support occurred and again, the need was filled.

“It seemed like a small thing, but so many lives were touched and continue to be, and the poor soldier who doesn’t feel too close to home, now gets a taste of it even though he is still stationed in a country far away.

“A schoolteacher I know, had her elementary children write notes to put into the boxes praising the soldiers for their support, protection, heroism and giving their lives for us. Most are very emotional and something I’m sure the soldiers appreciate a lot. Tears shed in the sands of Iraq are much better than the blood that could be shed.

“A small 175-member congregation with a few motivated people made a global difference. To the world you may be only one person, but...to one person you can be the world . . .

“Thought you might like this ‘reality’ story.”

Tom Kingstedt

In case you want to participate, you can send a “shoe box” full of goodies, or money, to Pastor David Brown, Pilgrim United Methodist Church, 4325 Zachary Lane North, Plymouth, Minnesota 55442. They also have a website: www.pilgrimUMC.org

* * *

We are only days away from the third anniversary of the attack on the United States which took place on Sept. 11.

Sept. 11 and Dec. 7 are two dates that will “live in infamy” in the words of President Roosevelt.

Everyone of us can remember just where we were when the towers came down three years ago. Those of us who are older will never forget where we were when the nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

These are the only two times in our history when the nation was attacked by devastation and surprise.

I have an 80-year-old neighbor here in Corpus Christi who is a survivor of Pearl Harbor.

On that Sunday morning, he and two shipmates, whose job it was to ferry sailors from their ships to the shore, were in the middle of Pearl Harbor, when the planes came over. One Japanese Zero saw their small boat below, peeled off and strafed them with machine gun fire.

Miraculously, they all escaped when they were thrown into the water.

Their little boat had been cut in two by the machine gun fire, right down the middle, missing them, but cutting the boat in half. They swam for their lives and lived to tell about it.

Now, get this: One of his sons was visiting the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He had arrived early to make an insurance presentation. He was on the 84th floor when the first plane hit the tower.

Unlike some others in the office with him, he didn’t wait for instructions. He raced out the door and ran down the 84 flights, barely escaping with his life.

He had a wife and two children under five to think about back home, along with his Pearl Harbor survivor father.

His father had survived Pearl Harbor and, 60 years later, he had survived the World Trade Center massacre.

Now, how’s that for a story?

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