Marietta, Georgia resident Valerie Winchell started Project Bravo with her son 8 years ago. It would later end up putting the word of God into the hands of 10,000 soldiers and veterans. Valerie wanted to instill in her son that it’s important to give back to the community, so she started putting together small military packages. Over time, the packages being sent out grew and just last year they shipped out over 450 care packages.
Winchell spends her time as a bookkeeper and business owner. Project Bravo was inspired by a series of military-related events touching Winchell’s life: her father was a serviceman and she also lost a close friend in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A particularly outstanding moment is when a care package recipient expressed his appreciation by telling her his entire unit was thankful for the gift. Winchell’s small gesture to help one person had affected the entire community.
A Personal Touch
The care packages are still an important part of Project Bravo, but it now also involves giving out inscribed bibles to soldiers. The messages contain words of thanks to the soldiers, prayers or even favorite bible verses they may have. Some bibles are are being picked up by chaplains and given out on the military bases. Other bibles are being shipped out as part of care packages.
“Two of the soldiers that received a Bible started to cry when they opened it up and saw the message that was inside,” she recalled.
Even local churches have gotten involved to make bibles available to local veterans and soldiers.
Making a Large Impact
Last year alone over 10,282 bibles were given out to soldiers and veterans. “It gives me chills to think about how many we’ll be able to give out this year,” said Winchell. Chaplain Steve J. Wyke of the GA volunteers at the Veterans Administration in Dayton has taken some of these books and personally handed them out to veterans at the shelter in need. The chaplain said the bibles are not being passed out to just anyone, they’re going right to the soldiers that need it the most.
“Guys and gals really appreciate somebody taking the time to walk up to them and say ‘There’s no strings attached to this. This is for you,'” said Wyke.
Donations to help cover the cost of Bibles and shipping costs can be made through the website. Supporters can also elect to sponsor a care package for $17.45 that will go to a specific veteran.