Sorority provides blessing boxes for veterans at Dole VA

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WICHITA, Kas. (KWCH) A local sorority's small gesture becomes a big thank you to men and women who have served our country.

The Beta Beta Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International from Andover dedicated two blessing boxes to the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center on Friday.

Chapter president Diane Stowell said the gift is meant to show a little extra support and gratitude to veterans.

"When they come here, we hope this will enable them to find more peace, and they can find and know that people do care about them or haven’t forgotten them. That their service and what they did as they served their country, it matters. It matters to all of us," said Diane.

The two blessing boxes were planted in the VA's Peace Garden on the southeast corner of campus. One is a free library, and the other provides food or personal products.

"Veterans can come here, take a book," said Diane. "If they need readers, we have readers provided in there. They can sit here and read their book, or they can bring a book back they can share with another veteran. Then they can go to the gratitude box and maybe if they need something out of there. Maybe they need a snack or hand soap or whatever; they’ll find stuff in there."

It was the idea of chapter member Jacque Ediger who works at the VA as a mental health nurse practitioner.

"Diane’s husband is a veteran. My dad was a veteran of World War II. I have a great-niece that’s in the Navy. I serve veterans every day at the VA," said Ediger. "As far as our organization, a service project of ours is Hope for Heroes, so we’re always looking for ways to serve active duty and veterans."

Stowell's husband, Gene, helped to create the blessing boxes.

"When the ladies in the sorority came to me, they said we want to build these, and here’s what it’s for, and I said sure. A veteran helping veterans, I’ll be there in a minute," said Gene.

The Vietnam Veteran said he found plenty of support to create the blessing boxes.

"I had several donations from people to help build them, so that was enjoyable for me, and I appreciated the donations," said Gene.

He said it was his way to pay it forward with his hobby.

"I love doing woodworking, and it’s kind of a stress reliever for me. It was a no brainer when they asked. I just said yes, I’ll do it," Gene said.

The sorority will keep the boxes stuffed, so there's always something in it for veterans and their families.

Beta Beta received a $500 donation to help with the service project from DeVaughn James.