205th families celebrate Easter, pack care boxes

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When approximately 130 soldiers with the Bogalusa-based 205th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard left town in January for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, they rolled out before the crowds who planned to give them a proper send-off had assembled along the route. But their families, who said their goodbyes at the armory, vowed they would not be forgotten.

As head of the Family Readiness Group, Misti Stewart, whose husband Sgt. James Stewart was among those making the journey to the Middle East, also promised to see that the children of the deployed soldiers would be helped through their parents’ long absence.

A recent Easter celebration covered both promises.

“Things have started to hit home with the soldiers making it to their new home for the next year, and we wanted to do something a little special for the children,” Stewart said. “We had a great turnout, and I think everyone was pleased. The smiles on their faces were what it was all about.” 

The kids got to visit with the Easter Bunny, got Easter baskets, played in a bounce house, ate hot dogs and had an Easter egg hunt. Then the special work began.

“After our Easter egg hunt, we gathered on the floor with the children and they each decorated a box to send to their soldier,” said Stewart. “We let them finger paint, add stickers, color with markers, whatever they wanted to do to make their box special. We filled each box with Easter grass, candy and their Easter picture in a foam frame that the children decorated themselves.”

Every box also contained a plastic Easter egg with a note from the soldier’s child inside.

“Once they open their egg they will have a note from home,” Stewart said. “I thought that was an awesome idea.”

The event was planned to enable the children to have a good time and to keep in touch with “their soldiers.”

“We, as adults, can cope and adapt to our soldier being gone away from home,” Stewart said. “But the children may not understand and are having a hard time. So as the FRG leader, I will say this is not the end of our good times. We have many more events coming up to keep our kids involved and making crafts and different items to send to our soldiers.” 

She said she was pleased to see smiles on the children’s faces during the Easter event.

“That is what it is all about,” Stewart said.

She urges everyone to “keep our soldiers in your prayers.”