By Dave Sorter
Barbara Edes wanted to make sure her brother was not forgotten while he is serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Youths involved with the Aaron Family JCC made sure that wouldn’t happen.
Edes, a group-exercise instructor at the J, watched her brother, Sgt. Steven Faul, leave in April from his western Pennsylvania home for his third deployment overseas. The first two were in Iraq.
“I wanted to keep awareness of my brother and these guys and girls who are fighting over there while we’re enjoying our freedom here,” Edes said. “Our membership took ownership of the project.”
Edes contacted the first sergeant of Faul’s company who provided her with the names of the 90 soldiers in the unit, and various J programs have recognized them all.
“I contacted the preschool director (Tara Sutker Ohayon) and asked if the teachers might be interested in making banners and posters,” Edes said. “Each class created a banner and sent them to the unit, showing their support.”
They liked them so much, the first sergeant asked for one to keep in his office, she added.
Meanwhile, banners with the names of the soldiers — 70 on one; 20 on the other — hang on the walls of the J’s Fitness Center and in the cycling center, respectively, Edes said.
The children got into it once they realized one of the people they were supporting was Edes’ brother.
“They got excited once they saw the personal connection because it meant a little more something,” she said.
And they found that one other soldier in the company, Pvt. Dakota Hay, is from Dallas.
The banners aren’t the only effort JCC programs are making to support Faul, Hay and the rest of Delta Company. For example, those participating in the Teen Travel Camp are making cards for the troop.
“Before camp started (J communications director) Lisa Rothberg came to me and informed me that Barbra has a brother who is stationed over in Afghanistan,” said Abbii Cook, Teen Travel Camp director. “When Lisa told me, I tried to think of something the teens could do to give back, even in a small way. I decided that the teens making cards for the soldiers would be a nice thing that we could to for them to let them know we are thinking about them and appreciate all that they do for us.”
So, about 80 teenagers entering grades 7-9 will make cards for the soldiers.
“The nice thing is that Barbra gave me a list of all the soldiers’ names so the teens get to make personalized cards,” Cook said. “I think that it is very important for the teens to pause and take time to remember that huge sacrifice the soldiers are making for us.”
Edes applauded the J and its staff for their efforts.
“The JCC has been very supportive,” she said. “They’ve rallied around me.”
So has Edes’ other employer, Larry North Fitness at Cityplace, where she is a group-exercise director.
“I asked my brother what they wanted, and he said beef jerky,” Edes said. “So I asked Larry if we could have a fundraiser. Larry is friends with 7-Eleven CEO, Joe DePinto, and the corporation got a huge care package together.”
Edes and her neighbors also bake a lot of treats to send overseas, as well.
“They’ve been showered pretty good in the last month,” she said.
As much as Edes appreciates the support her brother and his fellow soldiers have been shown by the J and Larry North Fitness, she hopes they won’t have to continue doing so for very much longer. Faul is expected to come home in January, and his sister prays he’ll remain stateside.
“This is the third time I’ve watched my brother go overseas,” Edes said. “I hope it’s the last time.”