‘Operation Sandbox’ Shares Love with Soldiers

Post a Comment » Written on April 11th, 2006     
Filed under: News
SALEM, OR (April 11, 2006) – Mark Fineran never imagined the enthusiasm with which Trinity Covenant Church would start sending care packages to attendees’ family members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It has been unbelievable,” says Fineran, the father of U.S. Army Lt. David Fineran who is on his second tour of duty in Iraq. “The people have been great.”

Packages Ready to Mail In early February, Fineran told the church about the needs of his son and the platoon he commands. The father asked if the church would consider putting together care packages for the soldiers along with seven other relatives of church attendees serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“People responded instantaneously,” says Fineran. “People were crying.” The members not only shed tears, but also opened their wallets. Within days, the church had sent 57 packages and raised hundreds of dollars to help pay for items and shipping. Each of the 24 members of David Fineran’s platoon received a care package and a package of toiletries, as did the other family members.

It was the launching of Operation Sandbox.

The outpouring does much for the heart of a father whose son is doing a second tour of duty in a dangerous country. “The encouragement to me is the joyful spirit,” Fineran says. “People have been bringing stuff like crazy.”

The church was supplied with a list of items they could donate, but Fineran was surprised with what topped the list of needs his son had relayed to him. “One of their favorite things is fresh tube socks,” he says. The socks get worn through quickly and are always dirty. “He didn’t even get a shower for five weeks,” Fineran notes.

“They also have limited access to keeping clean, so another big hit is wet wipes,” Fineran adds. “They love getting those so they can use them to clean up themselves and their gear.”

Fineran has learned his own spiritual lesson, explaining, “Maybe I understand better the message of Christ washing his disciples’ feet after hearing from these soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Items Set for Packing Sending care packages also has been good for church attendees. “This gave them a very concrete, very simple thing that they can do,” Fineran says.

The church is getting ready to make another shipment within about a week, says Fineran, who is storing the items at his house. More than $700 has been donated so far to help with shipping costs.

Fineran says the U.S. Postal Service has two sizes of flat rate boxes that cost a little over $8 each to send, regardless of weight. “You can pack quite a bit of stuff in them,” he adds. “Can you imagine what its like for these guys at mail call when they get these packages?” he asks.

The church hasn’t stopped at sending packages. They also have been making personal contacts through email.

The church is considering making the operation a full-time ministry of the congregation. Fineran says he hopes other churches will do the same. Those interested in learning more about Operation Sandbox can contact Fineran at cfineran@comcast.net.

“That even adds more encouragement to me to see this expand,” Fineran says. “It would be absolutely fantastic if other churches got involved.”

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