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Local gathers donations for soldiers

While most of LaGrange was still sorting through Black Friday purchases, Melody Paasch was delivering care packages for soldiers serving overseas.

Paasch has been gathering donations and delivering care packages for U.S. Army soldiers since 2016, and she said she felt called by God to put together the boxes for the men and women defending the country.

“Some people go on the mission fields. This is my ministry,” Paasch said.

She said the idea for the boxes first came to her after the death of a friend who served in World War II. It has grown since then.

“A few years ago, a friend and neighbor of ours, Jimmy Lewis, passed away, and he was one of the last few remaining veterans that were alive on the beaches of Normandy,” Paasch said. “I have family that was military. … [My cousin] was telling me some stories about the ones that don’t have family and don’t get anything for Christmas when they are overseas.”

When Paasch heard about that need, she said that she began to pray.

“I started praying about it, and I said, ‘OK Lord, if this is what you want to happen, then make it happen,” Paasch said. “So, our first year was 2017. We did 18 boxes that year. Last year, we did 43 boxes and 25 bags — which went to the ones that were in the hospital — and this year we delivered a grand total of 106.”

Paasch said the U.S. Army representatives she has spoken with have expressed their gratitude for the donations, and one of the soldiers who received a package reached out to thank her.

“You might think to yourself that it’s not making any difference, but to hear somebody say thank you [is great],” Paasch said. “My heart went out to him because he didn’t have anyone.”

The boxes typically contain granola bars, candy, hygiene items and Christmas cards wrapped in Christmas paper. 

She said she typically does not include a physical address for safety reasons, but she said she feels like being able to give soldiers something special in God’s name is important.

“That’s what it’s all about for me is just trying to help somebody else out,” Paasch said. “You don’t know who’s Christian who’s not, who’s given their life over to God, and as Christians, we’re supposed to spread God’s word as much as possible. I try to use religious space Christmas cards and things like that because who knows?”

Paasch said she received donations from Higgins LaGrange Chapel, Josh Spears Insurance, Moss and Sons in Pine Mountain, Watts Furniture and members of the Rosemont and Mountville Community. 

To learn more about the boxes or how to help, Paasch can be reached at (706) 412-8066.