When 155 mph winds struck the Florida panhandle, Hurricane Michael became the strongest storm to hit the continental United States since 1992. In the eye of the storm was Tyndall Air Force Base, essentially a city unto itself where thousands of military personnel work and live.
“The only thing left standing was the water tower,” said Joyce Mader, president of the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. The chapter sent food and other goods to military families living and working in and around the base. It was one of multiple projects the Blue Star Mothers embraced during 2018, a year that saw its share of natural disasters.
Funds raised by Blue Star Mothers of America, NY Chapter 1 — which covers several counties in the Finger Lakes region — is also helping victims of wildfires in California, including veterans and military families affected by the deadly wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise.
It was a local connection that also prompted the chapter to send aid to Puerto Rico, which suffered the deadliest U.S.-based natural disaster in a century when Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. Mader explained how contact with a family in Puerto Rico opened the door for the chapter to send clothing and supplies there — everything from “food to flip flops,” Mader said. A veteran who had served in combat with a son of one of the Blue Star moms is now a teacher in Puerto Rico. The veteran sent word about needs at his school and for the children there, so Blue Star Mothers helped, she said.
On Wednesday, the Blue Star Mothers Canteen in Canandaigua filled with the aroma of piping hot chili as the moms served up a homemade meal for a crowd. The chapter years ago renovated an old farmhouse on the grounds of the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, transforming it into a haven for veterans and military families.
The Canandaigua Messenger: