What started as a simple effort to bring comfort to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan earlier this year has taken off and is now drawing support from around the state.
"We couldn't stop it if we wanted to," said Butch Klein, who started Payson Supply Line with fellow veteran Lud Kaftan.
The Payson Supply Line sends supplies, unaffordable or unavailable through government issue, to U.S. troops overseas.
Most recently the campaign attracted the help of the youth group of Mesa's Bridge Community Church, led by Klein's son, Joe and daughter-in-law, Katie.
The young people held a bake sale and raised about $300 for the project, then on July 16 they held a three-hour car wash at Payson's Jiffy Lube, and raised another $400.
Through their efforts, Klein said 60 boxes of goods were purchased, weighing 35 pounds each. These items have been shipped to approximately 300 soldiers, Marines and airmen.
The young people are not stopping with the car wash, on Aug. 13 they will return to Payson to hold a rummage sale on behalf of the Payson Supply Line.
An anonymous benefactor in the Valley is a recent example of the ever-growing support for the project. After seeing a collection box at a restaurant where one of the military mothers worked, the donor decided to host a taco night for the cause. He provided all the food, the table services, and rented space, then he contributed all the proceeds to Payson Supply Line.
Another anonymous donor contacted Klein and asked what the organization needed from Sam's Club. Klein gave him the list, then met the man at Payson Supply Line's storage unit.
"When I got there, he opened the back of his vehicle and it was just packed," Klein said. "After we'd unloaded it, he put three $100 bills in my shirt pocket and said ‘It's expensive to ship," and left. I don't even know the man's name."
Through the generosity of businesses around Payson, the project will have a booth at the Oldest Continuous Rodeo in August, providing an opportunity for Rim Country residents and visitors to drop off goods or make a monetary contribution to help with the purchase and shipping of items.
"It costs $55 to $60 to ship each box," Klein said.
Donations can also be made at Oasis Christian Bookstore or Crosswinds Restaurant.
Batteries; white sweat socks; small cans of nuts; toothpaste; deodorant; foot powder; hard, round canisters of sweetened iced tea and Kool-Aid; men's vitamins; women's vitamins; granola bars; mosquito wipes; mosquito coils; gum; Pringles; hard containers of baby wipes; disposable cameras; ChapStick; and Rolaids are in high demand.
"Because it is so hot there now, we can't send tuna or anything like that," Kaftan said.
Klein and Kaftan want to expand their efforts and send donations of children's clothes and toys for the military to distribute to the orphans.
"The clothes can't have any brand names like Nike or Coke, nothing with the U.S. flag or stars and stripes, nothing with anything Christian," Klein said.
"It is a way to help the soldiers' relations with the Iraqis," Kaftan added.
The Payson Supply Line is getting its nonprofit designation, so future contributions will be tax deductible.
For more information, call Kaftan at (928) 474-6981, or Klein at (928) 474-6968.