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First Baptist sends Christmas toys to Iraq
Standifer picks up where Price left off: divine inspiration

In April 2003 First Baptist Church of Concord sent 70 boxes of supplies to the soldiers of the Fort Campbell, Ky., 101st Airborne Division stationed in Iraq.

First Baptist member Larry Price coordinated the initial collection and transportation of supplies to the soldiers. He and his wife had formed a special friendship with the battalion’s chaplain, Capt. Richard Compton.

However, Price died of a massive heart attack in May.

With no one to coordinate further communications to the soldiers, it appeared the church had completed its mission.

Then in September, Steve Standifer, a member of Price’s Sunday School class that had spearheaded the collection effort, contacted Compton’s wife Christy to learn of the 101st’s continuing needs.

“We believe that the meeting between the Prices and the Comptons was not by accident but divinely appointed, so we acted in faith upon this extraordinary opportunity,” Standifer said, referring to the church’s continuing concern for the soldiers.

“Our church and our Sunday School class has led the effort,” he continued. “We are doing it as a Christian ministry to our troops to demonstrate the love of Christ to them.”

Christy Compton told Standifer the deployed soldiers had recently learned they were staying in the region an (unexpected) additional six months, and were very discouraged. In addition, she said that moral is down within the troops because support seems to be dissipating.

“After the President declared an end to major combat operations,” Standifer explained, “Christy indicated that the letters and packages to our troops almost came to an abrupt halt.

“They’re not hearing from home like they did at first,” Standifer said of the soldiers still stationed in Iraq.

Compton requested that a collection of toys be sent to the soldiers for distribution to Iraqi children for Christmas.

Once again, First Baptist answered the request.

The church collected, gift wrapped, and shipped close to 2,000 toys to the 101st Airborne in mid October.

“We stand behind our troops and their efforts to bring freedom to the people of Iraq,” Standifer said. “We wanted to continue to show our love and support.”

The gifts should arrive in Iraq by early December.

According to Standifer, First Baptist will soon be sending the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division a 5-foot-by-10-foot Christmas card with signatures and words of inspiration “from as many of our church members as we can fit on it.”

“We know that the moral of our troops has been lifted as a result of having received packages and letters of encouragement - not only from us but, similar efforts from all across America,” Standifer said. “We just want to continue to support our men and women over there.”

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