COQUILLE, Ore. (KMTR) -- A church in Coquille has a long-standing tradition hitting a big milestone this weekend.
Years ago, local veteran Bob Sullivan sent a care package to a young man he knew had recently been deployed. After sending the box filled with goodies, a friend gave Sullivan the name of another soldier who could use a gift from home. And that's how it all began.
Ever since, Sullivan and the Fairview Community Church in Coquille have sent one care package to a soldier each week for the last six-and-a-half years.
This Saturday, the church is celebrating their 400th soldier care box.
“I tell people if you have a friend whose got a friend, that you know that's got a friend, let me know, and we'll send them a box,” says Sullivan. “I don't care if they're stationed in Oregon or in Afghanistan, they're our service person and we will send them a box.”
The 400th box is being sent to a local 19-year-old who was recently deployed to Japan. His father feels very thankful.
“I had heard he [Sullivan] was doing this long before I even had a notion that maybe my son's going be in the military,” says John Felsheim, father of the soldier receiving the 400th box. “Shows that we care about them back here -so that's a special thing.”
Sullivan says the boxes always have beef jerky and baby wipes. They usually also have something special for the particular soldier, like a Sports Illustrated magazine sent to a soldier who is into sports.
At the Fairview Community Church, there's a Wall of Heroes dedicated to the soldiers. Many have written letters to the church, thanking them for what they're doing. They've even been gifted combat flags brought back from overseas, two of which are stationed proudly in the church.
Each box costs about $50, but Sullivan says the community has been remendously generous. The local Taco Bell has donated hot sauce packets, local businesses have thrown fundraisers and even people from other states have joined in on the giving.
“We’ve got donations from Iowa, Texas,” says Sullivan.
It’s clear to see he’s passionate about helping the troops. When asked if he has any plans on stopping the boxes, Sullivan said no, and that he even has someone lined up to take his place in the future.
“Nope. As long as I’m physically able, and when I’m not, I already have that covered.”
Their 400th box celebration is this Saturday at the Fairview Community Church in Coquille. It’s located at 59572 Fairview Road. The celebration will start at and the public is more than welcome to join in. Sullivan says a couple of soldiers who received packages will be at the church to speak, as well as the parents of the soldier receiving the 400th box.