OGDEN -- The freedom and opportunity of the summer season may signify the perfect time to relax for Utahns, but a group of adults and children have chosen to remember the sacrifices of soldiers in Afghanistan as they begin their summer activities.
Myers Mortuary hosted an event Monday in which the Operation Adopt a Ghost charity and a group of local residents packed up items in boxes to be sent to Afghanistan for soldiers. The items included snacks, books, movies and games, along with a Hawaiian shirt in keeping with the "Beach Party in a Box" theme chosen by Myers and Adopt a Ghost.
"I started Adopt a Ghost when my son was deployed, and now we currently have about 2,600 soldiers we help. We handle whatever they ask for, and we've sent all kinds of crazy stuff. With this many people helping, what would normally take me and a couple volunteers a few weekends to pack will only take this small amount of time," said Linda Larsen, the president of Adopt a Ghost.
Myers Mortuary opened the small warehouse at the back of its property for the packing of the boxes, and Daniel Myers supervised the event, which will count toward his qualifications to be an Eagle Scout.
"I got involved and decided to see if I could do as good a job as the others did before. Last year we sent 97 boxes, and I actually know someone who is serving over there right now. He said getting the boxes was so overwhelming. I hope this year it will provide them with a bit of fun as well," Myers said.
Katie King-Brockman, the community outreach director at the mortuary, emphasizes the importance of enlisting help to accomplish everything from packing to paying for the shipping costs, and trying to find a way to uplift the soldiers during the difficult circumstances of being apart from their families.
"We received over $800 in donations for postage this year. This is our third year, and before, we had a Christmas in July theme. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we needed to remember that it will be Independence Day. Reminding soldiers of what they're fighting for -- freedom -- is important, and celebrating the holiday with a colorful Hawaiian theme will be a great way for them to kick back and have fun," King-Brockman said.
Soldiers who receive the packages will also receive a new addition to Adopt a Ghost's usual offerings. School counselor Amy Chenoweth enlisted the help of students at Bluff Ridge Elementary School in Syracuse to create more than 700 handmade cards for the soldiers. The cards are blank, so that soldiers can write and send a note to someone at home. The work was done by students during their lunch and recess breaks, purely by choice, and Chenoweth saw the activity as an opportunity to teach the children about service.
"Getting a grant for this was very unusual, and I love the opportunity to do service learning with the kids. The kids take a real pride in it, and so many ended up joining that Bluff Ridge had to give me a full classroom to make the cards, because I only have a six-person table in my office," Chenoweth said.
Anyone interested in donating or taking part in Adopt a Ghost can visit the organization's website at www.adoptaghost.org or call Larsen at 801-668-0928.