Payson has another reason to be proud of its patriotism. Recently, the youngsters in Robin Johnson's class at the Community Presbyterian Child Learning Center gathered 150 pounds of goods to be sent to military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Payson Supply Line program.
"It was amazing the amount of stuff those little kids brought in," said Butch Klein, one of the coordinators of the program.
The Payson Supply Line's goal is to send supplies to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Klein and Lud Kaftan, the other coordinator of the program, are collecting items that lift morale and improve safety; that are not available by government issue; and that are unaffordable or hard to find in isolated areas.
"We're trying to get them what they need," Klein said.
Klein and Kaftan are retired Marines, and know firsthand that the needs of men and women serving overseas are not always met. They're asking families and friends of Rim country soldiers to let them know what items are scarce on the front lines.
"We will buy enough for the soldier and their buddies and shoot it out to them," Klein said. "We won't be warehousing anything."
"We want to keep these kids comfortable and alert," Kaftan said.
The growth of the supply line depends on community involvement. Anyone with relatives or friends serving in Iraq or Afghanistan can contact Klein or Kaftan with the names of their soldier, mailing information and their specific needs.
Members of Mountain Bible Evangelical Free Church, Bank One, Oasis Christian Books & Gifts, and Chris Smith Investments are donating time and supplies to help Klein and Kaftan.
In addition to dry goods, the Payson Supply Line needs cash donations to supplement supplies and pay for shipping.
"We will try to get good deals where we can," Klein said. "We also want to get the kids at school involved and have them write letters."
"Residents of the Rim country have been wonderfully generous, but we are still taking donations," Kaftan said.
Hard candy used for "candy bombs," is a popular request from helicopter pilots. The candy is stuffed tightly into plastic bags, and before a helicopter attacks a target or lands, the crew throws the candy bomb onto the ground.
The candy scatters, enticing the children out of harm's way.
Other popular items include: Chapstick, sunscreen, socks, canned and packaged food, especially Vienna sausages, tuna fish and summer sausage, disposable cameras, hot chocolate, powdered drinks, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, batteries, Desinex, mosquito coils, energy bars of any kind, salty snacks and international phone cards.
Kaftan said to make sure the cards are good for international calls, and to shop around. Calls made from the country of origin can cost as much as $1 a minute.
Payson Supply Line also accepts cash gifts.
Kaftan discouraged donating items that contain chocolate. When the weather is hot, the chocolate melts all over everything.
"We're running short on names and we need more," said Kaftan.
For more information about donations, or to let the Payson Supply Line know about the needs of soldiers, call Klein at (928) 474-6968, or Kaftan at (928) 474-6981.
Donation drop boxes are available at Oasis Christian Books & Gifts at 512 S. Beeline Highway, Suite 1, and Chris Smith Investments, 112 W. Main St.