Ask Sarah House a direct question concerning the impact of the Semper Fi Sisters and the reply is a soliloquy.

Ask Sarah House a direct question concerning the impact of the Semper Fi Sisters and the reply is a soliloquy.

House, rather Sgt. Sarah House of the U.S. Marine Corps, has seen and experienced much of what was beyond her horizons after her graduation from Port St. Joe High School, she wrote in an email this week.

But that does not mean a touch of home, whether stationed as she currently is in California or has been and will be again in the near-future in Afghanistan, is not manna.

“The Semper Fi Sisters are a saving grace,” House wrote. “It is always uplifting to receive things from home. It is always great receiving anything from anyone supporting the troops, but when it is something sent from home it makes it even more special.

“It is always a great feeling to have the familiar around you when you are surrounded by the unfamiliar.”

The Semper Fi Sisters is gearing up for another visit to Gulf County next month to bask in the sunny and sandy beaches for their fifth annual Beach Blast.

From a gathering of 12 Marine mothers, grandmothers, wives and sisters in the first year, the Beach Blast has grown to include more than 70 women last year, related by marriage or blood to the handful of military branches in which loved ones serve.

And where that first group packed some three dozen care packages for troops deployed in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, last year the ladies and friends packed nearly 1,200 of what have become known as Boxes of Love, partnering with the Soldiers Angels organization for shipping information around the globe.

During a packing party in the Centennial Building, to the music of the songwriters in town for Blast on the Bay, the ladies and folks from the community construct an assembly line to reach out and touch.

“Whether by sending packages, cards or just sending up an extra prayer at night or during the day for us, it reminds us of what and who we fight for, why we wear this uniform and what makes our country so great,” House wrote. “The biggest thing I can say to our supporters is thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Those Boxes of Love, however, do not fill themselves and the effort – which we’ll continue to detail in the coming weeks leading up to the Oct. 17 Beach Blast – is truly continental, if not a bit global.

On the home front in Gulf County, items are needed to send a dash of Gulf County to troops overseas, but the Semper Fi Sisters are also in need of monetary donations for shipping.

Consider the math: last year nearly 1,200 boxes were sent out at $14.85 a pop on the discounted rate from the U.S. Postal Service.

“We will ship as many boxes as we have donations to ship,” said Brenda Garth, president of Semper Fi Sisters, which now spans across the country.

With military missions and events changing the Semper Fi Sisters’ goal has also, in a significant sense, expanded.

As much as the organization is dedicated to reaching out to troops, extending a hand to family members back home, aiding returning soldiers, wounded and not, the Sisters also have an educational bent.

“I believe that the American people haven’t forgotten just that the war in Afghanistan isn’t on the front burner anymore with events in Syria and other events taking precedence, Semper Fi Sisters do help keep the spirit alive and help remind the community and also remind the troops that there is still support back home in the States and help keep the troop morale high,” House wrote.


Donations for the Boxes of Love campaign can be dropped at any branch of Centennial Bank, Piggly Wiggly in Port St. Joe and Harold’s Auto Parts in Wewahitchka.

An account has been set up at Centennial Bank for any donations to defray shipping costs.

For more information visit Semper Fi Sisters on Facebook.