While not the most attended or producer of the most Boxes of Love, the celebrants of this year’s Beach Blast said uniformly that the event was “excellent.”
The Semper Fi Sisters recently enjoyed their fifth Beach Blast in Gulf County and the result was hundreds of Boxes of Love heading off to troops deployed overseas and more than 50 women trying to figure out how to make next year’s Blast even better.
“This was the best Beach Blast ever,” said Brenda Garth, president and co-founder of the Semper Fi Sisters, an organization of women related by blood, love or kinship to men and women in the military. “We have a very good turnout, a good cross section of women from across the country.
“Many of them are already planning to come back next year.”
The Sisters distributed surveys to all the departing participants and Garth said she has rarely seen such consistent praise through the ranks of the ladies who trek to Gulf County from as far away as California.
This year, 51 women participated in the Beach Blast, a tad down from last year’s 73.
For Emily Hansen, a Gold Star mom who lost her son in Afghanistan three years ago, the smaller numbers made for a more intimate bonding experience.
Hansen said last year’s Beach Blast, her first, changed her life after three years of mourning her son. That change continued this year.
“The numbers this year were a little less than last year but that gave us a great opportunity for bonding on a more personal level,” Hansen said. “I made new friends. It was intimate and so enjoyable.”
Garth said not only the smaller numbers facilitated more close interaction, she added that the mix of ladies was a recipe for the mix of laughs, tears and friendship that make the Beach Blast uniquely special.
“The mix of Blue Star, Silver Star and Gold Star ladies meshed really, really well,” Garth said. “Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the community and enjoyed the beach.
“Even when it rained on Saturday, the ladies went out and enjoyed the songwriters” in town for their own festival.
The Packing Party for the Boxes of Love was probably the smoothest running machine of the past five years.
“We have learned something every year and we just have wonderful people who really chip in and do such a great job,” Garth said.
The ladies sent off more than 800 boxes on the Saturday of the packing party with enough boxes to be mailed out this week to move the count over the 1,000 mark.
“It was so much fun and so wonderful,” Garth said of the Blast.