For 1.5-miles up to 200 people will walk to show their support for “lone soldiers” and the A Package From Home organization that sends various sundries to those military men and women who are serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
The fifth annual event will take place on Monday, July 24, beginning with the 9:30 a.m. lineup and then promptly 30 minutes later from Sunny Atlantic Beach Club at 2035 Ocean Blvd. in Atlantic Beach. Organizers request participants be there by 9:15 a.m.
Donations for the “lone soldiers” include any travel-size toiletries, especially deodorant, medicated powder, lip balm, wipes, hand sanitizer and toothpaste, said Helen Fuchs, a Woodsburgh resident who serves as the Five Towns coordinator for A Package From Home. Items are collected year-round to meet the soldiers seasonal needs.
“We try to provide them with care packages that also include notes and letters, which lifts their spirits and is often even more necessary than the physical items,” Fuchs said.
“Lone soldiers” do not have immediate family in Israel. They are typically immigrants, orphans or Israeli-born and estranged from their families. There are 6,550 IDF “lone soldiers,” and more than 800 are from the United States.
Working on coming up with ideas to help, Fuchs and Toby Schwartz, who lives in Woodmere, decided to establish the walk-a-thon in 2013. They were helped by Brenda Slochowsky and her mother, Ann. Throughout the year they solicit donations and sort through the provisions.
Since its founding 15 years ago, A Package From Home has sent more than 250,000 packages, according to Shira Gilor, a project manager for the group. “We try to squeeze each dollar that comes in, and buy the most we can for the soldiers,” she said.
In the Five Towns, Fuchs’ home is used as a central collection station and she seeks out volunteers to bring the items to Israel. When the supplies get to the Jewish state volunteers ranging in age from 8 to 94 gather at the Hansai Synagogue in Jerusalem.
An assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud is set up to put the packages together. IDF soldiers arrive throughout the day and talk with the volunteers before they leave with the packages. Colonel Tzvika Levy, who is known as “father to the lone solders,” determines where the packages go depending on need.
Fuchs said she was inspired to get involved because of Gilor, and was a packing volunteer during at family trip to Israel about a decade ago. “We consider Israel the Jewish homeland,” Fuchs said, “if these young people were so committed to it, who would be committed to them? Now, I see myself as caring about each one of these selfless kids the way I would I want to care for my child.” Fuchs has three sons.
To register for the walk, go to www.apfhwalk.com. The fee is $60, which includes a T-shirt and a breakfast after the walk. There will be drop boxes for donations of items that will be includes in the packages.
For more information, visit www.apackagefromhome.org.