[KHTS] – Prayer Angels for the Military and the Valencia Library hosted a care package creation event, to send much needed supplies to people in service overseas.
The event brought dozens of people together to create cards and special packages to help give “prayers” and well wishes to our nation’s military, said Suzon Gerstel, president of Prayer Angels for the Military, a non-profit military support group.
Beginning back at the start of the Iraq war in 2004 the event has given thousands of soldiers packages from the Santa Clarita Valley, Gerstel said.
“A lot of (the soldiers) are young, like teenagers, so they like snacks,” Gerstel said. “We give them things they need as well, like toiletries and toilet paper. Right now because it’s winter we’re having a lot of blankets, scarves, gloves and beanies because it’s snowing in Afghanistan and they will need that stuff.”
Packages don’t only come with supplies. Many Santa Clarita kids attended the event to make cards thanking our military as a present for the holidays.
“On their worst day or in battle or when something tragic happens, they will read the cards from the kids,” Gerstel said. “That makes them (remember) the reason why they are (overseas). It’s very emotional for them, so I always have the kids involved.”
In addition to the gifts, the event was a place for members of the community to learn about what it is like to be part of a military family and gave an avenue for families to share their stories.
“Carolyn Acosta will be here, (she) lost her son (in Afghanistan),” Gerstel added. “But (she) still likes to help out, it makes her feel she is doing something that her son would want her to.
“I had a son deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s not now but I’ve gotten so used to teaching people and helping people support them that I’ll probably just do that forever.”
Since the war in the Middle East has been on the decline, this year may not have the thousands of packages sent out that it used to, instead Prayer Angels will only send a couple hundred, Gerstel said.
The care package event is one of two events the Prayers Angels puts on for the holiday season, the second is a tree lighting ceremony for the military held at the Veterans Historical Plaza.