Blue Star Mothers helping provide for soldiers’ needs

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 7:25 pm on Sunday, June 30, 2013

Members of the local Blue Star Mothers, Debra Gommesen, left, Deann Oliver, center, and vice-president Kathy Barnes, manned an informational booth Friday at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair. The booth, which also is collecting donations of cash and personal items for military personnel serving overseas, will remain at the fair through today. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — No one understands the emotional balancing act a mother goes through when she has a son or daughter serving overseas with the military better than someone who has been in the same situation herself.

For some, it represents the first time a child has been living away from home. Couple that with the very real possibility of danger in combat and it creates a recipe for angst, at best.

That’s one reason the Blue Star Mothers formed, back during World War II; to lend support both to other mothers of service personnel as well as to the troops serving overseas.

Representatives of the local Blue Star chapter are at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair today, having arrived Friday. Their mission: to collect personal items — as well as cash donations — to provide troops with a few comforts from home.

According to member Debra Gommesen, who has four children serving in the military, the effort provides not only sometimes hard to come by necessities such as razors, shampoo and shaving cream, but also individually wrapped — and preferably healthy — snack items.

“I’ve been a member, let’s see, this is my second year,” Gommesen said. “I have four sons and a son-in-law in the military, that’s why I joined. We provide emotional support when a child is leaving for basic training. We’re all moms who have been there and know what this is like.”

The collection booth at the 4-H Fair is just one of many fundraising efforts in which the group takes part each year. Similar events have been held at discount supermarket chains, race tracks and other locations, basically, anywhere the group can find a willing host.

According to chapter vice-president Kathy Barnes, the group also holds other activities to support and honor troops serving overseas. A 5K cross country run/walk, slated for Aug. 10 at East Kentwood High School, is one such example and is being held to honor fallen Navy Seal David Warsen.

“We attended his funeral and did a ceremony for his family,” Barnes said.

Blue Star Mothers of America was founded in Flint in 1942 when 300 mothers attended the first meeting. The local chapter boasts only about 20 members, but their mission remains the same as it has always been — to provide for the needs of our troops serving overseas and the families who must remain behind and wait.

For more information about the local Blue Star chapter, call Barnes at (989) 814-0650.

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