Women’s club care packages remind soldiers of home

March 23, 2009

By Jeff Richards

Sandy Cobel (left) and Mara Page, with the Issaquah Women’s Club, assemble care packages to send women serving in the armed forces overseas. Contributed

Sandy Cobel (left) and Mara Page, with the Issaquah Women’s Club, assemble care packages to send women serving in the armed forces overseas. Contributed

“People back home don’t realize how much a simple thank you does for a soldier over here,” wrote Pfc. Candice Owens. “It’s the simple things that remind us of home.”

Owens is one of many Issaquah residents stationed overseas in the armed forces who received a care package last year, courtesy of the Issaquah Women’s Club. Like others, she wrote a letter in response to thank the club for its effort.

Club members will send more such care packages this month to local women serving abroad, hoping to bring a little touch of home to those in Afghanistan and Iraq. The care packages were the charitable focus for the club in February. 

Consisting of soaps, milks, toothpaste, shampoo and other products, the packages are a way of raising moral for the troops, said Sandy Cobel, the club’s volunteer services chairperson.

“It’s a way of saying, ‘You’re special to us. You’re a part of the community, even though you’re not here with us, and we’re thinking of you,’” she said. “We think of the care packages as little boxes full of love.”

One of the best aspects is the letter included in each care package, club president Debby Bader said.

“It’s so appreciated, just thanking them and letting them know they’re in our prayers and in our thoughts,” she said. “That just meant the world to them.”

The letters the club has received in response ranged from simple thank-yous to stories of passing products out to fellow female soldiers and the difference it made to moral.

“It’s nice to know that someone out there besides my immediate family is pushing for me to come home,” Owens wrote.

Cobel said she understands the practical reasons people have for serving in the military and the enormous personal sacrifice they have made to do so. The gift baskets are a way to give back.

“I don’t like the war, but I know it’s my duty as an American to support the armed forces,” she said. “This is kind of a woman-to-woman connection.”

The packages have yet to be sent this year, as the club continues the search for Issaquah residents serving abroad. Cobel will begin the search for recipients of next year’s packages as soon as the current batch are sent out.

Bader said club members typically prefer to focus its resources on the Issaquah area, but may have to expand their search.

“Ideally, we’d like to have women serving overseas who are from the Issaquah area,” she said. “It could very well be that there aren’t local women serving right now.”

The Issaquah Women’s Club was formed in 1983. In March, the club collected books to hand out to schools and other organizations. 

The group holds many fundraisers throughout the year to support its charitable work. The next is a basket auction at a club meeting, 10:30 a.m. May 7 at Tibbetts Creek Manor.

All proceeds go back to the community, an aspect about the club that attracted Mariann Crane, the club’s fundraising chair.

“I liked the idea that there wasn’t any overhead and everything got put back,” she said. “I like being able to give back to the community.”

On the Web

Learn more about the Issaquah Women’s Club and its activities at www.issaquahwomensclub.org.

Reach intern Jeff Richards at 392-6434, ext. 236, or isspress@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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