Hospital volunteers take care of 'family' serving in military

March 12, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Both literally and figuratively, Sgt. William R. Williams III has a family at Chambersburg Hospital and, though he is in training for his third overseas deployment to the Middle East, they have not forgotten him.

A nursing assistant, Williams' father, William, and his wife, Jennifer, also work at the hospital. He is one of 16 relatives of Summit Health employees who are serving in, or on their way to, Iraq, Kosovo or Afghanistan.

Also on their way overseas are care packages to those 15 men and one woman, courtesy of Chambersburg Hospital Operation Care, said Earlyne McCleary, the director of Volunteer Services.

Like thousands of other guardsmen and reservists, Williams' civilian life has been interrupted by the war. McCleary said her department and the Chaplain's Office decided to put Operation Care into action "to show our fellow employees we care" about their family members in the service.


"We wanted to make their days a little brighter after the holidays," McCleary said of the service members.

Hospital volunteers John Alberts and Don Craig, both veterans, and Beth Shetter of the Chaplain's office were filling boxes with commonplace items that are likely most uncommon in a war zone - lip balm, foot powder, socks, beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, popcorn and cookies to name a few.

The packages also have phone cards totaling 420 minutes of calling time, McCleary said.

"I think what the volunteers are doing is really wonderful. It will really cheer them up when they receive it," said Bev Cardinale, a performance improvement manager at the hospital. Her brother-in-law, William Larrick of Williamsport, is an Army reservist serving in Kosovo.

"He's a full-time teacher when he's at home, but he actually had to resign when he was deployed," Cardinale said. He has kept his hand in education during his assignment, she said, helping to refurbish a bombed-out school where he also teaches.

Larrick's family has sent him teaching supplies in the past, she said.

McCleary said the word was put out a few weeks ago, seeking monetary donations from Summit Health employees. More than $1,000 was raised, she said.

Chaplain Paul Yeun said the response was slow at first, until an e-mail went out about a week ago and "the money just poured in."

"William really has a family here," his father said.

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