CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Araya Ayala was as soon as a star softball participant at Flour Bluff Excessive Faculty.
In her final at-bat three years in the past, she hit two dwelling runs. Strong.
Not lengthy after that, she traded her softball uniform for a navy uniform.
Araya now serves with the Military’s elite 82nd Airborne Division in Poland in help of Ukraine. She was deployed proper after that nation’s Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
Again at dwelling, her grandmother, Viola Ayala, voiced her comprehensible concern about Araya’s mission.
“I didn’t need her to get deployed,” she mentioned.
However Ayala accepted it, and now beams with satisfaction for her courageous granddaughter.
“I’m very pleased with her,” she mentioned. “Very proud. I like her and I miss her.”
Ayala, who hasn’t seen Araya since final summer season, mentioned she believes her granddaughter takes consolation in figuring out her grandmother is considering her; and praying for her.
“In fact, she’s in my prayers each single second of the day,” Ayala mentioned.
Consolation can be being despatched to Ukrainian refugees and American troops corresponding to Araya within the type of care packages.
Native veterans and neighborhood members are packing every thing from toothbrushes to beef jerky — something to spice up troops’ morale abroad.
“I’ve associates who’re energetic abroad who’ve acquired packing containers, and it makes their day,” mentioned volunteer Sydnee Cissna with Devoted Healthcare and Hospice Companies.
“They (the troops) have left their households (at dwelling). That is in method we will contribute,” mentioned volunteer April Magnuson, President of Caldwell Banker Pacesetter Metal Realtors.
“We gotta carry on serving to them out as a lot as we will. That’s all we will do,” mentioned Vietnam Conflict veteran Tomas Rendon, as he was filling packing containers with important objects.
Most significantly, this effort to pack and ship these care packages is a show of native love in motion.
“They’re our warriors over there. And it’s to allow them to know that we’re eager about them and we care,” mentioned Gregory Kindle, President of Coastal Bend Troop Help.
Kindle’s group put collectively this care-package meeting line to ship quite a few packing containers abroad.
Fight veteran JJ De La Cerda, who served two excursions of obligation within the struggle in Iraq, understands the thoughtfulness that goes into each care package deal.
“They’re (veterans and volunteers) right here out of the goodness of their hearts, giving what they’ll and packaging for folks they don’t know,” he mentioned.
The Nueces County Veterans Service Officer additionally is aware of firsthand what it’s prefer to have a member of the family deployed. His nephew, JC Moreno, can be among the many contingent of troops serving abroad in help of Ukraine.
“Getting that care package deal from somebody you don’t know means the world, particularly when there’s not a lot on the market,” mentioned De La Cerda.
Relations again at dwelling additionally take consolation in figuring out that full strangers are rolling up their sleeves to ship a chunk of dwelling to their family members who’re at present serving.
“Grateful — very grateful for what they’re doing,” Ayala mentioned. “I might see the smile in her (Araya’s) face. She’s gonna have an enormous smile.”
To donate to the care package deal effort, right here’s the knowledge for Coastal Bend Troop Help:
609 eighth Ave. Portland Tx. 78374
PO Field 742 Rockport, Tx. 78381
Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org and Pat Simon at email@example.com