by Lisa Tome
Jill Lee knows how important support is to our country's Wounded Warriors.
Lee, of Rising Sun, is married to one.
Her husband, Thomas, who has been in the military for 17 years with the Delaware Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq in 2007. In 2013, he deployed again to Afghanistan. He was injured and is now at the Wounded Warrior unit in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
"You never get used to it," said Lee, who is working to support her husband and others.
She is making a big effort for what she believes is a small gesture to show the Wounded Warriors how much they are appreciated.
For the second year, Lee, her friends Pam Pierce and Heather Herr, and their church, Nottingham Missionary Baptist, are working to gather items to provide Easter baskets for all those in the Wounded Warrior unit.
Last year Lee was surprised by what the warriors did with the baskets they received. Rather than keeping them for themselves, the military members gave the baskets to their own children as gifts. Her initial plan in the first year was to make 280 baskets. That number grew to 400.
"It was a huge undertaking," she said.
She got support from the church as well as schools, the community, Armstrong, Herr Foods, and Crouch Funeral Home. This year, she is working to expand the mission and get more people and businesses involved in the effort. There will be drop boxes in locations where donations of items can be made. Lee is currently working to partner with local businesses to establish the drop box sites.
Each Easter basket contains a chocolate bunny, fun size candy bars, Slim Jims, Peeps, jelly beans, gum, Tic Tacs, chips and more.
The baskets were assembled at the church and then driven to Virginia in three vehicles.
"The reason we did this is because they volunteer for the service and they are not the same when they come home. They have PTSD, or lose a limb. This is a drop in the bucket for what they have done," said Lee.
She said she wants to honor the sacrifices that have been made. "They are grateful for anything. They appreciate that people care and remember (the sacrifice). Their war is just beginning when they get home. I live this, I want to help someone else," she said.
Anyone interested in donating to the Wounded Soldiers Easter Basket Fund may call Lee for donation drop off locations at (302) 593-4853. Monetary donations to buy gifts for the baskets may be sent to Attn: Wounded Soldiers Easter Baskets Nottingham Missionary Baptist Church 303 W. Christine Road Nottingham, Pa. 19363.
The list of items include Fun Size candy bars, Peeps, peanut butter eggs, Tic Tacs, Lifesavers, jelly beans, individually wrapped cookie snack packs, and new large plastic eggs. Deadline for donations is March 15.