NEW LEXINGTON — One small box from New Lexington has made a huge impact in Germany to one solder who had a surprise waiting for him last month.
Private First Class Jeff Gullion, stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany, southwest of Frankfurt, was one soldier who received a care package from the Perry County Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Gullion told his story of his shock when he received a notification for a package for him on June 25.
“I woke up midday to a notification that a package had arrived for me,” he said. “I didn’t recognize who or where it came from when I first saw it, but I took it back to my room.”
Gullion said the contents in the box included numerous post cards thanking him for his service, supplies, books and newspapers, along with countless other small items.
“I sat there for a moment and kind of just stared, I didn’t know how to feel,” he remarked.
RSVP included a pamphlet in their care package to give Gullion all the information he needed about his American Santas. Gullion said the pamphlet told him about what RSVP does and gave more information about who they were and what they represent.
“I looked at everything and thought to myself, I am really honored to have people take the time out of their day, and money out of their lives to send something like this,” he told The Perry County Tribune.
Gullion said it really struck him because he loses contact with a lot of people in the States due to the time difference, and the package reminded him people still care about his and his fellow soldiers and love them.
“Small things like this mean the world to all of us over here,” he said.
With all of the work the soldiers put in, and events they endure, Gullion remarked how they all have to keep each other’s laughs high while overseas.
After receiving his package, Gullion said he posted about it on social media as a thank you to the organization for what they did.
“Although it may be small to them, it means the world to us over here. The familiar sight of back home, I suppose, brought so much joy,” Gullion added.
Perry County RSVP Director Ruth Liff-Gray began sending care package a little over five years ago. Other RSVP programs throughout the country shared their knowledge and ideas of military care packages, and Liff-Gray said she began, with the help of many.
Out of Lancaster, Blue Star Mothers provides Liff-Gray with names and addresses, along with more information provided from people in the community and school.
The process begins early, as it takes a lot of time to fill and get the packages sent early enough to arrive on time.
“We partner with the Elks, and they allow us to take the packages over there to pack,” she said. “Then I will bring them back to my office and address them before I take them back to the Post Office to be sent out.”
There are four main times of the year Liff-Gray and RSVP sends out packages: Easter, the July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We send anywhere from two to 20 packages for those holidays,” she said. “Gullion’s package was for the 4th, and it arrived earlier than I expected; I was impressed.”
Most of the package’s contents are donations from people in the community, and each package costs less than $20 to ship.
Liff-Gray said they include puzzle books, hygiene products and more.
MedFlight also donates to the cause, along with various other people and companies.
The soldiers who are the intended recipients for each care package sometimes do not have any rhyme or reason in connection to Perry County.
“They don’t have to be from Ohio, or even Perry County,” Liff-Gray said. “We are all Americans, and we want them to know they’re not forgotten.”
The next care packages are planned to be sent out to the soldiers to receive their surprises on or before Thanksgiving.
Liff-Gray said these packages hold a lot of meaning to RSVP and the soldiers.
“I just don’t want anybody to forget that we’re still at war and an American dies there at least once a day,” she noted. “I want people to realize we’re still at war and not to forget our soldiers who are fighting for us.”