For the year, Gardiner Community Church has helped brighten the lives of at least 120 soldiers serving overseas.
That’s how many boxes of goodies and necessities they’ve sent out this year to U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party and Special Tactics men serving as ground support for U.S. and allied Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan.
Diane Martin, mission’s coordinator for the church, said these are largely unknown members of U.S. Air Force Special Operations who typically advise on the best use of air support.
Four times a year, a church group gathers for “Support Package Day” in February, May, August and November to package and send support packages with items like baked goods, snacks and socks to the troops as a mission of support and love.
Since the church began its mission in 2008, it’s mailed out 918 boxes.
This mission began in memory of Washington State Air Force TACP’s and Battle Control personnel who died during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first was Master Sgt. Scott McDaniel and later Staff Sgt. Tim Davis. The church’s pastor, Rev. Greg Austin, officiated their services and shortly after McDaniel’s service brought the idea of sending care packages to the church’s Women of Faith ministry group who opened the event up to the whole church.
For the second year, three classrooms from Greywolf Elementary made more than 180 Christmas cards for the soldiers.
The church also includes a hand-written note in each box and Martin said they continue to hear from soldiers expressing their thanks for packages from “home.”
“We are so blessed to be able to supply them with some of their needs,” Martin said.
The Sunday before the boxes are sent, Austin invites servicemen and women up front at the Sunday service to pray over the boxes and for the soldiers’ safety.
Several local businesses help with donations including Costco, QFC, Safeway, the UPS Store and the U.S. Post Office for expediting mailing the packages. Postage costs several hundred dollars to send out 30 boxes each quarter, so the church accepts donations and supplies.
Its next Support Package Day is Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, and to send a donation or check, mail it to “Gardiner Community Church, 1040 Old Gardiner Road, Sequim, WA 98382.” Make checks out to “Gardiner Community Church, c/o TACP.”
Gardiner Community Church meets 10:30 a.m. at 1040 Old Gardiner Road and can be reached at 360-797-0044.