For the past eight years Bill and Barbara Risen have been the moving force behind Parker’s annual “Christmas for the Troops” campaign, mailing over 1,000 packages to US Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were recently presented with this plaque of gratitude by 1st Lt. Kristoffer Bachmann of the 578th Engineering Battalion. The 578th received several packages in 2011 from Bill and Barbara, and the people of La Paz County.
Dozens of packages have also been mailed by Risens to the soldiers during the Memorial and 4th of July Holidays. The Risens explain, “We want to bring a little taste of home to our guys and girls serving our country.”
Each year in October, residents of La Paz County start collecting goods for the soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Hundreds of pounds of packaged food items, flavored drink mixes, magazines, books, DVD’s, popcorn, baked goods, shampoo, other personal hygiene products, along with anything else that can be used by our military personnel are gathered. Items are dropped off at donations points across the county: schools, businesses, and non-profits. Residents and organizations can also donate money to help cover the cost of shipping. Each box costs $13.45 to send. As much as can be fitted goes into each package, no matter the weight. Multiply that cost by 250 packages, plus the hundreds of pounds of donated items, and once again the generosity of La Paz County shines!
Last Christmas over 250 boxes were loaded and mailed. This herculean task can’t be done by just 2 people; boxes have to be loaded, a required declaration form has to be filled out, each box has to have an address placed on it, and they all go through the U.S. Post Office here in Parker, which Bill explained, is wonderful to work with. Each box loading session is complemented with volunteers from Parker Lions, Rotary Club, VFW’s and citizens who just want to help.
Soldiers serving in Afghanistan who are from La Paz County are a 1st priority for mailings. Packages cannot be sent anymore addressed to “Any Soldier.” The name of a soldier must be placed on the package. If you have or know of a soldier serving in Afghanistan, please contact Bill or Barbara Risen with their APO address.
Presenting this award to the Risens is 1st Lt. Kristoffer Bachmann, who just returned from an eleven month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Kris is a graduate of Parker High School Class of 2002. He entered the ROTC program at UCLA, graduating in 2008. As a Combat Engineer he is currently assigned to the 578 Engineering Battalion. During their time in Afghanistan the 578th carried out a number of missions including support to the 82nd Airborne. Lt. Bachmann was injured by an IED while in Afghanistan, and was recently awarded the Purple Heart, along with the Bronze Star for meritorious service.