They came, they saw, they packed.

They came, they saw, they packed.

The Semper Fi Sisters, military moms, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and wives, arrived in force last week and enjoyed their fourth annual Beach Blast.

More than 70 ladies registered, coming from as far away as South Dakota and Arizona, and stayed the entire four days and nearly a dozen joined them over the weekend.

They headquartered at WindMark Beach, had a blood drive, held educational sessions and, generally, relaxed and escaped from the rigors of daily life on the home front with women of common mission and cause.

The culmination of that Blast – which included horseback riding on the beach, some personal TLC, time to relax, shopping on Reid Avenue and enjoying the songwriters also in town for a festival – was last Saturday’s packing party.

The Centennial Building was transformed into a factory as lines of folks sorted through tables of items to pack “Boxes of Love” to deployed soldiers overseas.

Those boxes includes items from around the world, Australia and Germany included, and also 13 golden tickets from the Gulf County Tourist Development Council that offered the recipient overseas a getaway to Gulf County upon discharge.

By the end of the afternoon, 1,020 boxes had been packed and labeled for shipping, said Brenda Garth, founder and president of Semper Fi Sisters.

“We could have done more, we had addresses and labels, but we ran out of items to put in the boxes,” Garth said. “And that all happened in the course of three hours.”

Some of the boxes will be followed to their destination and The Star will follow them and report on their presentment to troops overseas.

For Garth, the satisfaction outweighed the exhaustion of pulling off her fourth Beach Blast, which has grown from 12 women packing three dozen boxes to 80 women packing more than 1,000.

“I am tired, but I am thrilled,” Garth said. “Overall it went really well. We already have ladies registering for next year which is a good thing that they are even talking about it.

“Everybody had a great time. They loved it all. They were taken aback by the friendliness and welcoming from the people of the town. They had read about it, but they had to see it for themselves. They loved it and they loved all the people.”