ESA encloses a piece of Williams in each military package mailed

The pile of cookies took four women more than an hour to put into Ziplocks.

When they were done, volunteers helped the Epsilon Sigma Alpha’s Beta Epsilon (ESA) chapter members fill boxes for servicemen and women stationed away from home.

"I know all the servicemen really appreciate it," said Carol DeLander, ESA member whose son is stationed in North Carolina. "He loves to get the box, and he feels like it’s from everybody."

The ESA chapter has been serving the Williams community for 51 years. They, along with chapters across the nation, first started sending boxes to the servicemen and women at Christmas time during the Korean conflict.

ESA sends holiday boxes to local military personnel stationed across the nation or around the world and have been doing so annually since the 1960s. The boxes are filled with goodies from all over northern Arizona and are sent off to servicemen and women in all branches of the armed forces. Since the beginning, more than 1,200 boxes have been sent out. This year, 30 boxes were made and delivered to the post office.

Connie Freson, 5-year ESA member and current president, said the project is very rewarding.

"We feel this is such a worthwhile project because of all the positive feedback we get," she said. "Even today, men and women who received boxes 20 or more years ago will contact us so they too, can now contribute to current military personnel."

Freson and DeLander, who are two of the five-member strong group were joined by Dorothy Miller, 31-year ESA member and treasurer, who helped package things together Dec. 5 at St. Joseph Church. Miller brought her daughter-in-law, Gail, and two grandchildren — Jessica and Mike Miller. Two friends of the family, Rich Geshel and Megan Lugo, also showed up to help out.

Other members include Valerie Myers and Patti Lugo.

It’s not an exclusive ESA project, said Freson. She said the community really helps to fill the boxes. Many organizations, businesses, churches and residents in Williams contributed to the cause.

This group includes the Forest Service, McGaugh’s Newsstand in Flagstaff that contributed Arizona Highway Magazines, the City of Williams, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Williams Health Care Center, KC Hilites, Safeway, the Lions Club, Bank One, Arizona State Savings and Loan, WalMart, Cracker Barrel, the Williams Volunteer Women, Aspen Homemakers, Rod’s Steak House, the American Legion, Country Vineyards, and the Williams-Grand Canyon News.

In the top of each box, the last thing placed inside is a piece of junipine with a bow in. Freson said this is done so when the boxes are opened the recipient gets a breath of home.

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