American Military Missions’ donations increase

Published 9:19 am Saturday, April 2, 2011


Claude and Sonja Hardison of Zuni started American Missions for U.S. servicemen.

ZUNI—Contributions to American Military Missions, a non-profit that sends needed items to American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Kuwait, are increasing daily, said director Sonja Hardison.

“But we can always use more,” Hardison said. “Each day our list of servicemen gets longer, and we don’t want to leave anyone out.”

Hardison, her husband, Claude, and volunteers Connie Roddy, James Franklin Stephenson, Sarah Crowder, Fred Barb and Sharon Patterson send from 15 to 20 packages to troops monthly. Contents of the packages are all donated.

“We are so grateful for our volunteers and would like to express our appreciation to all who have donated items and cash, as well,” Sonja Hardison said. “We could not begin to continue this mission without their help.”

Since the mission began nearly six years ago, she has received donations from members and youth of several churches, including Windsor Baptist Church. The church, which donated 53 bags of items, has been a longtime supporter of the mission and has provided cookies to help fill the packages.

Mill Swamp Baptist youth baked and packaged cookies, while Franklin Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Trinity Methodist Church in Smithfield and Living Hope Community Fellowship Church in Windsor sends donations each month to help with postage. Mt. Carmel Church in Walters is also a major contributor.

At least five churches in North Carolina have started their missions to troops with help of American Military Missions, Hardison said.

Organizations include the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club, which donated tables for packing boxes and provides money for postage. Windsor, Zuni and Kempsville Ruritan clubs and Walters Homemakers’ Club have also helped with postage.

Many businesses have been long-time contributors, including the Virginia Diner, Smithfield Station with Lisa’s Sweet Shoppe, Windsor Pharmacy, Bacon’s Castle Shop, Peanut Growers Coop, Econo Lodge in Smithfield and Super 8 Motel in Franklin, Smithfield Dentistry and Dr. Demsko in Windsor.

Also, Walmart stores in Suffolk and Franklin, Target in Chesapeake, Checkers Restaurant and Food Lion in Windsor, Technology Made Simple in Franklin and many individuals.

In addition, we have had many farmers lend a hand, Hardison said.

Buddy and Pearl Jones of Walters have donated money on a regular basis, while farmers William Gwaltney, John Pittman and Crocker Brothers contributed nuts; Zuni Presbyterian Homes, which had donated its own peanuts in the past, blanched, cooked and bagged them.

Hardison added that John and the Rev. Shirley Oliver had donated their services in designing their cards and stationary.

“They did a wonderful job,” Hardison said. “Our contributors are very generous, and we’re beginning to get help even from outside the area. If we have neglected to give credit to anyone of them, we apologize.”

The Hardisons started the mission when their grandson, who was deployed with the U. S. National Guard in Iraq, mentioned that some soldiers did not receive packages from home.

“We have not failed to send packages every month since we started,” Sonja Hardison said. “And we will continue until the last of the American troops come home.”

Monetary donations may be mailed to Farmer’s Bank, P.O. Box 285, Windsor, Va., 23487, or Sonja Hardison, 20215 Clark Circle, Zuni, Va., 23898. Make checks payable to American Military Missions.

Those with items to donate may call Hardison at 242-4196, and someone will pick them up.