By SHEILA SELMAN
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Every two weeks, 25 boxes find their way from Goshen to the Middle East and land in the hands of a U.S. serviceman.
The boxes are filled with food, coffee, tea and personal items, plus hugs. Hugs are cooling ties that military personnel can wear around their necks to lower their body temperature in the Middle Eastern heat.
“We feel the boxes are more important now than ever,” said Nancy Mast, founder of the HUGS Project of Elkhart.
She explained that toiletries and snack items service personnel would normally buy at the PX on base are becoming diminished as more bases continue to close. So, requests from soldiers include items such as oatmeal, protein or granola bars, beef jerky, tuna in a pouch and personal items including lip balm, sunscreen, bandages, bar soap, eye drops and acetaminophen.
To keep their dwindling shelves supplied and boxes en route to the Middle East, HUGS Project of Elkhart volunteers are hoping the public will help.
Donation boxes have been set up at Martin’s Supermarkets in Goshen, Elkhart and Nappanee. The outside of each box contains cards that explain the HUGS Project and includes a list of requested care package items.
“We would like to come in every week and empty them,” Mast said.
The boxes are located next to the entrance/exit doors, so people who are shopping can purchase a few extra items and then drop them in the box.
For more information about donations or the HUGS Project, go online to www.thehugsprojectofelkhart.com or contact River Oaks HUGS leader Nancy Mast at 574-293-2810 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.