Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: Something to be thankful for

FAIRMONT – About 60 Martin County families who have loved ones in the military received Thanksgiving food baskets this weekend, courtesy of the local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon organization.

Fifteen volunteers bundled up against Saturday’s cold temperature to meet at Hy-Vee in Fairmont and receive their assignments. Store personnel loaded shopping carts filled with everything necessary for a holiday dinner.

Tam Plumhoff, coordinator of Martin County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, handed out addresses and instructed the volunteers on their duties.

“This is a surprise. They don’t know this is coming,” she said.

Each volunteer had a turkey, ham and a bag filled with pumpkin bar mix, dressing, potatoes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, corn and the ingredients for green been casserole.

“It’s a great thing that they (Beyond the Yellow Ribbon) do, and we’re glad to help,” said Nate Jaster, store director.

This was the first time Sue Moore and her husband, Bruce, of Fairmont volunteered for the food distribution. She has a daughter, Rhonda McCulley, who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, currently stationed in California.

Plumhoff said Martin County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has been delivering the food baskets for the past five holiday seasons, and any family with a loved one currently serving in the military is eligible.

“The only way I can get names is if I put something in the Sentinel,” Plumhoff said. People can also email her at

“We’re missing some names, I know,” she said. “Unfortunately, there isn’t a database. Everything is confidential.”

Some families don’t come forward because they don’t feel they need “things,” she said, but the Yellow Ribbon organization offers more than just dinner fixings for the holidays. Emotional support and friendship with other families of service personnel is a priority.

The next event on the group’s agenda is a Christmas party.

“This is a very new thing,” Plumhoff said. “Last year, the local National Guard unit opened up to have other military families come to their Christmas party. It doesn’t matter what branch of the military you are in.”

The party will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at the armory, and people wishing to attend should RSVP to Plumhoff via her email.

“There is no cost,” she said. “The (National Guard) unit will pay for the soldiers, and MCBTYR will pay for spouses and children.”

The local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group is able to provide the holiday food baskets and host the Christmas party through fundraisers, such as the July 4 Freedom 5K run, and the kindness of area residents.

“We are able to do what we do because of donations we receive throughout the year,” Plumhoff said. “People in Martin County are so generous and supportive of our group.”