This week's "My turn" column is by Beverly Soldan, Tina Burnham and Lesley Beers, who operate "Care Packages From Home."
We are "Care Packages From Home." We pack, wrap and ship care packages to our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No matter what we think about the war, our soldiers are over there defending us and they need our support and encouragement.
It has been nearly six years that our project has been active.
It all started when a friend of my daughter's was sending care packages to her brother in Iraq. Tina thought it was such a great idea, we started sending to him, also, and that was the beginning.
We started at my dining room table and have since moved to a larger building on my property. We received more names and addresses and donations of items started coming in as the word spread.
The Daily Star very generously started putting our information in the paper and the project continued to grow.
All of the items and all of the postage are donated.
We're often asked, "Are you still doing this?" and "What do you need?"
Our answer: As long as our troops are over there, we will continue. What we need is anything you use on a daily basis because their needs are the same.
The list published in The Daily Star is from the soldiers themselves. Some have a PX (military store), some do not, or it is very poorly supplied and always very expensive. Some live on outposts, forward operating bases (front lines) in tents with very few supplies, even taking showers using bottled water.
We have a few local businesses that donate on a monthly basis. We always need money for postage, which is very expensive. Sending priority mail usually takes about two weeks to arrive.
We used to have a few companies that donated toothbrushes and sunscreen, but they no longer do that.
If your office has empty copy-paper boxes, we can use them for shipping items.
We have a local church that has a benefit auction for us in the spring. All items for the auction are donated by local businesses.
If you would like to raise funds or collect items for us, your church group, Scout unit, 4-H club, school, etc., can make it a project to help support our troops.
Your office, store, restaurant, etc., can host a donation can that we will supply for you.
We have soldiers who have contact with children in the streets and hospitals, so we also send children's clothes, shoes, school supplies, etc.
At this time, we have many boxes of crayons, but we need coloring books.
We do occasionally receive a thank-you note from some of our soldiers. They are very appreciative and thankful for everything and anything we send to them. The correspondence is not frequent because they are obviously very busy and don't have much downtime.
Some items that we don't often receive are multi-vitamins, safety pins, nail clippers, socks (men's and women's), nasal spray, canned soups and Tylenol.
If you don't have time or don't like to shop, a cash donation, check or money order or a gift card from Wal-Mart, BJ's or Dollar Tree would allow us to do the shopping for you.
If you would like to visit our site, please call 829-8627 to arrange a time and day.
We have had 4-H groups, Girl Scouts and others come with their donations to see how and where they go.
Your empty ink cartridges and old cell phones (working or not working) may be turned in for money that will be used to purchase items or postage to continue the project, also.
You can have a yard sale, rummage sale, auction, dinner or breakfast as a fundraiser.
We were recently contacted by a peanut farm in South Carolina wanting to know how to get their products to our troops. They have been receiving many requests from the soldiers. The company will be shipping its products to us in bulk and we will pack and ship them to specific soldiers who are requesting them.
This increases our need for postage.
Thank you to all who have helped in any way to support our project and our troops.
Soldan, Burnham and Beers can be reached at 829-8627, 829-5928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care Packages From Home's website is www.countrycomputerconnection.com/soldiersmostrequesteditems.
To write for "My turn," contact Daily Star Publisher Tanya Shalor at email@example.com or 432-1000, ext. 214.