By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Organizers expect to meet or exceed their fundraising goal of $13,000 for this year's Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom program.
A porkchop sales event was held Friday at Veterans Park to raise money for the effort.
As a result, over 900 meals were delivered and about 200 pick-up orders were served, said David Keen, chairman of the JCOIF Committee.
“We just had a tremendous outpouring of support from the community,” Keen said.
The volunteer effort raises funds to purchase military exchange cards for Jefferson County soldiers serving in war zones. The porkchop sales event is the program's major annual fundraiser.
Friday morning, the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building at Veterans Park was abuzz with activity as JCOIF volunteers worked quickly to bag up porkchop meals for delivery.
The porkchops were cooked that day, but orders were taken ahead of time. Each meal cost $7.
Those who purchased fewer than 10 orders were asked to pick them up at Veterans Park Friday. Orders of 10 or more porkchops were delivered.
Some of the larger delivery orders included 79 meals for Continental Tire, and 72 meals each for Napa and National Railway, Keen said.
“The community's just been fantastic and we've got a huge crowd (of volunteers) to help us,” Keen said.
One such volunteer was Rob Hamilton of Mt. Vernon, a Sergeant First Class in the Army/National Guard. He said the program is extremely beneficial.
“It's great to have the community come together like this to show support for one common cause,” Hamilton said. “And I know the troops really appreciate it.”
This year's goal is to raise $13,000 to provide about 15 soldiers with $800 exchange cards before Christmas. These are local soldiers serving in Afghanistan or the Afghanistan Theater of Operations.
The exchange cards, or PX cards, can be used at any military installation to buy various items either online or in person.
“The most important thing is it gives the soldiers a feeling of hometown support,” said volunteer Troy Poorman, a major in the Missouri Air National Guard and son of former JCOIF co-chair Joyce Poorman.
Keen said this year's porkchop fundraiser is named in honor of Joyce and Harold Poorman and Dr. Judii York, all of whom passed away recently and were ardent supporters of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Once the funds have been collected for this year's program, the next hurdle will be tracking down the names and addresses of all the soldiers who will receive PX cards.
Because of privacy concerns, JCOIF organizers cannot get this information from the military, so they are dependent on soldiers' families to supply it, Keen said.
“The big thing now is we don't know the people's names in Afghanistan, the Navy ships out in that area, so we need people to contact us,” Keen said.
Keen would like the PX cards to be sent out to soldiers by early December so they receive them in time for Christmas.
For more information or if you have a relative in the military who may benefit from this program, contact Keen at 316-9502.