FLINT TWP. — Spending holidays away from home, friends and family can be a pretty forlorn experience, but that feeling should be eased this Valentine’s Day for 24 people with ties to South Baptist Church.
The church at G-4091 Van Slyke Rd. has been shipping Valentine’s Day treat boxes for about 35 years to students away in college and people serving in the military, said Becky Shipp, project coordinator this year.
“I got a box when I was in college and that was a long time ago,’’ Shipp recalled.
This year, seven boxes are going to people serving in the military — all but one of whom are deployed, Shipp said.
The remaining boxes are going to college students who are spread out all over the country.
Not all recipients are members of the church. Shipp said her son-in-law, who is in the Navy, will be getting one and also her nephew who is deployed.
Another church member who teaches at Bendle is sending one to a former student whose brother is now in her classroom.
It’s kind of a loose connection but still a good enough reason to send a box, Shipp said.
The names and addresses of box recipients are gathered from responses to a notice placed in the church bulletin.
Tracy Walls was among about 15 church members who came to the church Fellowship Hall last Friday night, despite heavy snowfall earlier that day, to help prepare the goodies and pack the boxes to be mailed by Shipp on Saturday.
Walls has boxes going to two daughters away in college in Virginia and also to the boyfriend of one of her daughters who is a student at Kettering University but currently in Chicago doing co-op work.
The goodie boxes contain a variety of treats, many of them homemade, and two Valentine’s Day greetings.
The first heart-shaped note says: “This box comes to you with love from your friends at South Baptist Church in Flint Michigan. We pray for you regularly and hope that this box encourages you and makes you think of home.”
The second note is a message drawn and written by K- 5th-graders at the church sending their well-wishes. One being sent to a college student says “have fun studying.”
Goodies packed in the box include no-bake cookies, Rice Krispies treats, a chocolate chex mix, caramel corn, fudge, brownies, peanut brittle and chocolate chip cookies.
Until about 10 years ago, the boxes were filled with donated baked goods. But to ensure freshness, a crew of workers started preparing the items fresh in the church kitchen just before mailing, Shipp said.
Boxes going to military people are mailed to APO and FPO boxes. Some arrive in a four or five days and some can take weeks, she said.
But her son who received one of the boxes while serving in the military once told her that whatever is in the box gets eaten — even crumbs and unidentifiable contents because — they are so happy to receive them.
South Baptist has a tradition of spreading the love. One of their annual outreach efforts is to host an Appreciation luncheon for all staff at Carman- Ainsworth schools. They also are working on a mentorship. program for C-A middle school students and provide staging grounds for the annual C-A homecoming parade.