Business Owner Still Showing Troops He Cares
April 17, 2005
The flag is enclosed in a triangular presentation box with glass on one side so the white stars on the blue field can be displayed. It came with a certificate of authenticity that notes it saw action aboard a KC-135 tanker as it refueled A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthogs” over Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2004. Four spit-and-polish Navy recruiters - chiefs Melissa Carlin, Glenn A. Blair, Jr., and Lamont D. Reed, and NC2 (SW) Leonaldo Ramos - made the presentation in Bob William’s office on State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel. They gave the flag to me. But it really doesn’t belong to me or The Tampa Tribune. It should go to the hundreds of generous readers who donated thousands of dollars so that Williams can keep up his amazing work.
Starbucks A World Away. I’ve written before about the tall, lanky former Navy man who, with his family, owns Sifter Parts & Service, a bakery parts and equipment company. Conveniently, the U.S. Post Office in Wesley Chapel is within strolling distance of the office. That makes it easy for Williams to send care packages to U.S. troops stationed overseas in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, the Kyrgyz Republic - all places where the nearest drug or discount store is about 12,000 miles away. Much of what Williams ships is snack items donated by generous companies like Starbucks and Snyders of Hanover - all of which are enormously popular with the troops. But Williams buys a lot of what he sends, particularly the “special order” stuff such as Q-tips, CDs, DVDs, batteries, school supplies, toys, feminine and personal hygiene items, deodorant, shampoo, cigars and so forth. More wish lists land daily in his e-mail inbox at . He won’t say how much he spends. But it’s significant. His most recent inclusion in the gift packages - many of which are readied for shipment by volunteer Bruce Hockensmith of the Lutz Patriots - are camouflage scarves that Sifter Parts provides and are then inscribed with messages to the troops by area school children and church groups. “The scarves are good for keeping dust and sand out of your nose and mouth,” says Williams, demonstrating how the cloths can be wrapped and tied around a face. American Express Helps Out.
The packages prompt many e- mails of thanks, like this one from U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Camila Garcia-Amariz, who is in Kyrgyzstan. “The reason of this letter is to thank you for all the goodies you have been sending us. It is really nice to know that there are people in this world that really care. I’ve been deployed 3 times and this is the only time I have seen someone send out goodies all the time to the troops. ... Once again, THANK YOU!” Often, the thank you notes include more wish lists, which Williams is eager to fill. But, as usual, he has run out of money to pay the postage, which costs about $2,000 a month. The local American Express office will assist with May’s postage. It would be great if other area businesses, civic and fraternal organizations - even neighborhood groups - would help pick up the tab for future shipments.
Small donations help, too.
Make checks payable to the U.S. Postmaster and mail it to:
P.O. Box 7560, Wesley Chapel FL 33544. Or call (813) 991-9400.
Nothing boosts morale more than a package from home.