Jay Area will be missing his son-in-law and nephew come Christmas, as both of those young men are serving in the 161st Field Artillery Unit National Guard. The unit serves at the Newton Armory — but right now is in Kuwait.
They will be in Kuwait for the holidays.
Area is missing his family — Josh Hulse and Grant Gaeddert.
“It sucks, honestly,” Area said. “This is my son-in-law's third deployment. It is tough to be away from the family.”
There are 101 members of the unit — all of whom will not be home for Christmas.
“They are allour our communities and have ties here. They will all be away at the holidays,” Area said. “There is a quite a group over there. If we could spread a little Christmas spirit over there, that would be awesome ... anything is great.”
“We would like to see the Newton community support this and make sure all of our guys have Christmas,” said Paul Sandford, Newton's American Legion Commander. “We would like to send at least 101 gifts.”
Area said a recent set of care packages to the unit included thank you notes from elementary school students. Magazines, toiletries, snack foods that do not melt and other small items are welcome as well.
The unit was deployed in May, their stint in Kuwait is scheduled to last about 400 days — more than one full year.
Donated items can be taken to the American Legion at 400 S Spencer Rd.
Sandford is hoping the community will donate small items that can be packed for shipment — and funds to help with shipping. He estimated that shipping will cost close to $2,000. Financial donations to the project should be sent to St. Luke's, 808 E Sixth St., Newton, KS, 67114.
“If people wanted to donate $40, that would be great,” Sandford said. “That would cover shipping and a gift for a soldier.”
Items will be packed up at the legion, and the goal is to ship it all Dec. 3. Donations should be made by by Nov. 26.
For more information, call Area at 620-217-6198.