By Mary Fox

Bonita Wulf is passionate about supporting our servicemen and women overseas. Since 2011, she has coordinated, through St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ellicottville, the acquisition of items, packing and mailing of 68 boxes to our service men and women in the war zones of Afghanistan and North Africa. As a matter of fact, she sent out 14 boxes just this week.

“They don’t get hygiene and health products in forward lines. There is a great need for it,” said Wulf.

“These packages mean so much to military men and women far from home,” wrote West Valley’s Captain Patrick McCauley.

As “a small token of our appreciation,” Captain McCauley’s parents personally delivered to St. Paul’s a flag sent by him that “was flown on a surveillance reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2012, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Along with the hygiene and health items, heavy socks, helmet liners, books, snacks, hot sauce (to spice up the taste of their canned rations), Bibles, pens and notebooks, and small stuffed animals to give out to the children are always included.

Sending boxes to our young men and women may seem like only a drop in the bucket compared to all the men and women involved in wars, but for the ones who get Wulf’s boxes, it can be the touch of home and hope they need. It is her way of “doing something” we all say we would like to do.

By the emails, letters and gifts Wulf and the congregation of St. Paul’s have received, the “something” has more to do with morale than things.

“They (the congregation of St. Paul’s) are asked every six months to support this mission and they never let me down,” said Wulf.

The cost of postage to send the boxes to our servicemen and women in Afghanistan and North Africa is the same as mailing them anywhere else.

“Sending them in flat rate boxes helps with the cost of postage,” said Wulf, who is grateful for St. Paul’s support and that of generous individuals who help provide funds for mailing.

Not only does Wulf put her own money into paying for items and mailing them, but also she puts her heart in every package.

Wulf’s only uncle was killed in WWII at the age of 25 and is buried in France. His participation in the war and ultimate death had a great influence on her young 8-year-old heart, and since then she has been an avid supporter of our troops wherever they are.

“I watch the news and keep up with what is going on with our service men and women around the world. I’ve always been a patriotic person,” she said.

Sergeant Jeremy Shay wrote, “You made a field artillery battalion very happy. It was so thoughtful to take time out of your day to look after us. Everything you sent was useful and it really helped morale around here. It’s great to know we have the support of people back home. On behalf of 2nd Platoon 2-32FA, thank you for everything.”

Wulf corresponded with Sergeant Shay’s father in New Jersey and found that he was stationed in a forward operations base between Afghanistan and Pakistan living in tents with no running water for washing, no electricity, and eating canned rations.

Boxes are sent to service men and women whose names have been provided by relatives and friends and church members such as Major DJ Pritchard, the son of Wanda and Joe Dry of Little Valley, who is on his 4th deployment in Afghanistan.

Anyone knowing a service person in Afghanistan or North Africa can notify Wulf in August (contact information to come in July) before the next boxes go out in September. Wulf also receives names from “Operation Shoe Box” in Florida.

“Along with all the other missions our church supports,”  Wolf said, “we can be proud of the way our church comes together for such worthy causes.”

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