HAZARD — The National Guard 207th Engineer Company left Perry County in December on a year-long mission to the Middle East. The sendoff the soldiers received in Hazard on the day of their deployment was spectacular. Now, people of the community have an opportunity to further show their support by donating supplies for care packages that will be shipped to soldiers of the 207th throughout the duration of their mission.
“From Kentucky With Love” is the name of the project. A major focus is placed on snacks, toiletries and entertainment supplies. Suggested items include beef jerky, chips, trail mix, coffee and chewing gum or hard candy. Female soldiers are among those deployed with the National Guard. So, female products are also suggested, as well as lip balm, eye drops, bug spray and cough drops. Playing cards and board games for entertainment are suggestions, as well as postage stamps for the soldiers to send letters home.
Owner Diana Patula said the idea of the project came after the parade. She wanted to make sure the community remembered the soldiers during the entirety of their deployment. She wanted to make sure the soldiers knew they were loved back home.
“I want to make sure we will be taking care of our men and women,” said Patula.
What makes this project unique Patula said, is it is specially aimed at the eastern Kentucky soldiers. They will be the ones benefitting from the donations.
“This is for our people. They are people we work with, our neighbors, people we sit in church with and our co-workers. It comes from the heart. That is why I called the project ‘From Kentucky with Love’,” said Patula.
She hopes other owners of McDonald’s in the surrounding areas will get behind the idea.
Patula said the Kentucky National Guard Armory has been helpful in the project by getting her in contact with people who could help the families of soldiers while they are on employment.
McDonald’s in Hazard is part of the organizing effort for this project. Items for the care packages can be dropped off at both Hazard McDonald’s locations, as well as the McDonald’s in Whitesburg. “From Kentucky With Love” will continue throughout the entire Middle East mission for the 207th, so donations of items will be accepted until the soldier’s year-long deployment is finished.
“It is nice to live in a community that has bonded together to say ‘You know what, it’s hard right now, but if we do it together, we can make it’,” said Patula.
More information can be found by searching Hazard & Whitesburg McDonald’s on Facebook.
Sam Neace and TJ Caudill collaborated on this report. Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243. TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-629-3245.