Puxico steps forward with shoes for Iraq
By Allen Palmeri
October 21, 2003
PUXICO – Diane Geary works as a church secretary for First Baptist Church, Puxico, a congregation of about 120 people in a town of 1,100 near Wappapello Lake in southeast Missouri.
"Our church is wondering if you would be interested in the story about a young Army soldier in Iraq who is doing good by giving away shoes," Geary wrote in an e-mail to The Pathway.
The neighbor of Geary’s daughter is Specialist Jayson Miller, a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic with the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood Army Base, Killeen, Texas. Miller is one of thousands of American soldiers who have spent months in Iraq fighting to free the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
"Jayson is a caring individual," Geary said. "When he was first deployed to Iraq, my husband and I sent a huge box of goodies to him. He thanked us for it, but then said he didn’t need anything else, that there were others needier than him."
According to Geary, Miller noticed that the Iraqi children had blistered feet because they were exposed to burning-hot sand without any shoes.
"Is there anything you can do?" Miller asked Geary through an e-mail.
It was time for the Missouri Baptist church to swing into action. Seven large boxes full of shoes representing "several hundred" pairs were collected and shipped to Iraq.
"Now everybody has at least two pairs of shoes," said Buzz Brown, pastor of First Puxico and an Army veteran himself who was converted to Christ while serving in South Korea.
"We should have a whole different picture about Iraq than what the media is telling us. These people obviously love the GIs who are providing things for them. Their faces are just glowing."
Since then First Puxico has held a baby shower for the wife of a friend of Miller’s. Four boxes of baby items and maternity clothes were sent to Texas, Geary said.
"I’m well-pleased," Brown said. "There’s a generous spirit in the church."
Geary and her husband, Roger, an Air Force veteran, met Miller in Texas last year before the war with Iraq began. When they learned he was being sent overseas they decided to "adopt" him in a sense, starting a friendship that has only been strengthened through their cherished exchanged e-mails.
Diane uses e-mail to keep up with his work among the needy children of Iraq and Miller has indicated he would like to come to First Puxico to speak when his deployment ends.
"I really want to help more at home when I return," he told her.