Tomorrow the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division will be celebrating Valentine’s Day far from family and friends back home. They are stationed overseas, serving their country, defending freedom, and representing Hoosiers in a way that makes us all proud. For these soldiers, holidays are often bittersweet. Though they have friends and comrades with which to share the season’s joys, being apart from those who they love can take an emotional toll on these strong soldiers.
It was this reason that the first Salvation Army Donut Girls headed to the battlefields of WWI to bring comfort and a little home cooking to homesick soldiers. It is why The Salvation Army has been a part of the USO since its creation in 1941. And it’s why Operation Compassion is a part of The Salvation Army’s ministry right here in Indiana.
This Valentine’s Day, the 38th Infantry Division will be opening special care packages assembled earlier this month by Salvation Army donors and volunteers. As a part of Operation Compassion, these 200-plus care packages aim to bring a little taste of home to our Hoosier soldiers and show them how loved they are by the people of their home state.
Each Valentine care package includes items likes crossword puzzle books, popular American candy and snacks, pocket-sized books, and prayer request cards. They also include Valentines made by elementary and middle school students from Brownsburg and additional cards with special messages from Salvation Army staff, officers, volunteers and donors.
“We’re just letting them know how much we appreciate them, how much we are praying for them, how much we care about them,” explains Major Bob Webster, Indiana Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army. “The fact that they’re out there on the front lines, doing so much for us. I don’t think anybody realizes how many times we think about them. I know they think about their people back home and who they miss, but we miss them here, too.”
Major Webster included in each care package a special letter telling the soldiers just how much they are loved and appreciated by grateful strangers back home. He also made sure that each soldier received a special medallion inscribed with the 91st Psalm, also known as the Soldier’s Psalm, along with the inspirational story of the 91st Infantry Brigade of the US Expeditionary Army. “We can’t wait for them to receive these packages,” remarks Major Webster, “and we can’t wait for them to get home safe.”
Many thanks to the volunteers and donors who helped us purchase items and assemble these very special Valentine’s Day care packages. We continue to pray for the safety of our brave men and women in the armed forces and appreciate your prayers, as well.