Pleasant Retreat UMC Collaborates to Send Military Packages for Holidays

Date Posted: 12/11/2014

A small youth group demonstrates a big heart by sponsoring a mission project to reach half way around the world. The congregation helped them create 31 holiday care packages for a special military unit in Qatar.
It was the next best thing to being “home for the holidays.” Pleasant Retreat UMC, Tyler sent very special care packages to a very special military unit in Qatar, helping to bridge that gap between loved ones that are separated during special family times.
“It all started with our small youth group wanting to do something for my son’s unit,” shares Tammy Stidham, whose son SPC Ryan Stidham was recently deployed from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. “The funny thing about Ryan is that he took his Army leave over the summer to come home and participate in UM Army with this youth group,” she adds, “then he went back to Ft. Bragg and three weeks later was deployed. He is such a giving young man which makes a momma proud!”
The youth were inspired by Ryan’s courage and enthusiasm not only for serving his country but because he chose to spend time helping others on his vacation.  They wanted to do something for him in return.
According to Tammy, initially, the youth group thought there were only about eight soldiers involved until she explained there were several dozen soldiers in Ryan’s unit alone. Overwhelmed by that number, the youth and Rev. Richard Luna enlisted the support of the congregation. Once the congregation got involved, items began flowing in. 
We had Sunday school classes, United Methodist Women, and individuals taking boxes and filling them.  Shares Tammy, “A couple of ladies took several boxes to a local discount store and filled them to overflowing.  One member told me she had shared what our church was doing and her hair stylist gave her $20 to put towards some items.”
Member Deborah Cook was thrilled to join in the effort. “The men and women of our armed forces risk their lives each day for our liberties, not the least of these is the freedom of religion,” she shares. “These boxes were a very small thank you from our church for the large job that they do every day. We are all aware of how far they are from home, how much we miss our very own soldier, Ryan, and how much soldiers would rather be home. Hopefully these goodies will touch their hearts and bring a little holiday cheer their way. The picture we received back with their smiling faces really brightened our day.”
Adds Tammy, “I cannot tell you how happy it makes me feel that our church came together so quickly to assist the youth with their mission project to reach half way around the world. How thoughtful to send special gifts to the soldiers who are apart from their families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays!”
Smiles were abundant – at home and abroad -- when the boxes arrived around Thanksgiving. Adds Tammy, “This is our first time to not have all of our children home during the holidays!  However, it is such a blessing to be a member of a congregation full of love.”