Lud Kaftan and Butch Klein are both veterans and know how much it means to soldiers in war zones to get something from home.
That is why the two Payson men organized the Payson Supply Line. They gather a variety of goods not usually available to soldiers, but needed to make their tours more comfortable, box them up and ship them to Iraq and Afghanistan in care of soldiers whose names family members and friends have provided. The goods are then distributed to their fellow personnel.
Some of the recipients have sent notes of thanks:
"Dear Butch, I appreciate all the cool stuff and goodies you sent. The handwarmers came in really handy during the winter as I gave them to our guards during the night shift. The candles and lotions were a big hit with the female soldiers in the Battalion. -- Thank you! John" (Maj. John Winter)
"To All the Wonderful Contributors to the Payson Supply Line. Greetings from Tikrit, Iraq. My name is Kristina Emmons and recently I received an awesome box of wonderful accessories that made my life here in Iraq much easier. ... we are just awe-struck that people would take the time out of their days to put a package together and send it to the soldiers here. You have no idea how humbled (and) special we feel to receive wonderful gestures like the one you sent me. ... many say that we are the courageous ones, but that is only partly true. Our backbone is made up from the strength of our family, friends and wonderful people such as yourselves. -- Kristina Emmons, 421D Tikrit, Iraq"
"Hey Butch, Thanks for the package. It was an awesome surprise. -- Thanks again, Brent" (Brent Sedlar)
The program was started at the first of the year and more than 60 boxes, each weighing approximately 35 pounds, have been sent to more than 300 military men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each box contains this letter from Klein and Kaftan:
"We are the Payson Supply Line, a group of concerned Americans in Payson, Arizona. We've talked to some who have returned from over there and they've told us some of the things that are hard to come by.
"We have enclosed, in this box, supplies that you may need that you are not able to get a hold of. Please pass them around to anyone who needs them. If possible, please let us know what else you might need or want to make your time there a little easier.
"These items have been obtained through private donations by the citizens in the area.
"We thank you for the courage that you are showing to defend our America. We want you to know that there are people here who care about you and the sacrifices that you are all making.
"May God bless you all. Our support and our prayers are with you."
A variety of fund-raisers have been held over the last few months in order to obtain money to buy what the soldiers need and ship it overseas. The next event is a rummage sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Highway 87.
All proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase needed items that will be sent to the military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have had so much donated for the sale, we're going to need a truck to get it there," Klein said.
Even if there is nothing at the rummage sale you want to buy, you can still make a contribution to the cause and visit the display table showing the photos and letters sent back by recipients of Payson Supply Line boxes.
Contributions can also be made at Oasis Christian Bookstore and Crosswinds Restaurant. For more information about the Payson Supply Line program, call Kaftan at (928) 474-6981, or Klein at (928) 474-6968, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Payson Supply Line Rummage Sale
The next Payson Supply Line fund-raiser is a rummage sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13 at Wal-Mart on Highway 87.