When I first began with the Blue Star Moms, I wasn’t sure about how we were going to get things going as far as packages for the Troops or our Wounded Warriors. Things have moved so fast in a positive direction that I know that being a part of this, even beginning this Chapter, is something I was supposed to do. I know that may sound silly to some, but I am a firm believer that if you are meant to do something in life then the Universe will allow you to succeed. If you truly want to accomplish anything, feel it in your heart, it will come your way, in one manner or another, you will get what you need. By giving you receive.
Mind you, I have felt helpless many times in my life; when my son was in the Intensive Care Unit at birth, I felt this way. It was up to him to begin to breathe on his own without a respirator, which he did after a few days and now, all these years later he serves his Country with pride. Many times throughout my life I have felt that I could not deal with certain things that have come my way but always, I have been able to come up with the courage to see things through. My palms may get sweaty but I “put on my big girl undies and deal with it.” So, when more Moms began to contact me to join with me on this endeavor, I found ways to get things together, some times overnight! From standing up and speaking to a group of strangers about what a Blue Star Mom actually is, to putting together new member packets for familys, it has been a lot of work. And I have enjoyed every part of it.
However, when it came to sending care packages to our Troops, I didn’t really know how we were going to accomplish this on our own. Where to begin, who to talk to, nothing. I was as new at this as a fresh recruit getting off the bus at bootcamp! We are all new to this still, we didn’t have a lot of contacts except each other and the income/donations were not there yet. The cash donations we have received we have stood many hours in the heat, cold, wind and on hard concrete for. It is the least we can do, in my estimation, just a little discomfort is well worth the outcome. We do this thinking of our soldiers in the heat and cold, far worse conditions then we put up with.
We have been blessed with over 7,000 packets of the instant coffee from Starbucks customers to send to our Troops. We have been able to send handwritten note cards in every single package that we have been able to send to date. These come from those who visit our table when we do things like enduring heat of 103+ degrees at the Annual Chili Cookoff and local dog show. We have had bake sales to raise funds to ship the boxes that we knew that we would eventually, somehow be able to fill. I knew that we were on the right track, I could just feel it in my heart. The angels were listening to be sure!
I received an email from Operation Homefront regarding school supplies for military children to sign up on the website they gave me and was able to list our chapter to receive donations from local Dollar Tree stores. I figured we would receive a little something that we could pass along to the children, even receiving 10 of something would be better off then where we were at the time, with a whole lot of nothing except what we, the moms, were purchasing to send on our own.
Lo and behold, when we received the first call to go and pick up those items, there were at least 15 boxes between just two of the locations chock full of school supplies! We ended up with enough to assist 111 children plus, of various ages and in different locations. We were overjoyed to be able to receive such a generous contribution from the local communities.
Once I saw those coming in, I figured I should get back in the non-profit mode that I used to be in when the boys were in Cub Scouts and see if I could convince another store to do something so I went to Borders Book Store. To my surprise, the assistant manager was a “Navy brat” and they decided then and there to do a book/school supply drive for us. We ended up with over $5,000 in new books, backpacks and other items for the military children to give to them along with their school supplies. What an awesome blessing!
Once the drive for the school supplies was over, we were still wondering how we were going to be able to support our Troops. My own paycheck can only be stretched so far even when I do shop at Wally World and the “D” store. Many of our moms were out of work due to slow downs at their places of employment, like many others and we were all stressing about our children being deployed yet again. What to do, what to do?!?
Then, to my surprise, I received another notification from a local D store. Was I the right person for them to call? They had some care package items that they had collected and wanted to give them to someone and they had my name so could I stop by and pick them up? Taking my pick up truck over the next day, I picked up an entire truck bed of boxes loaded with care package items like hand sanitizer, razors, foot powder, combs, snacks of all kinds, candy and more! I wanted to cry, I was so overwhelmed at the amount of items that I actually needed assistance to pick up the rest.
We sent out 55 boxes on our first campaign, that was over 4 months ago with donations from family and friends. Last night, our third packaging to date, we packaged 150 boxes and actually ran out of boxes to fill. We had donations from not only the D store customers, but also from members of the local Veterans Administration staff, local community members and business owners. People just pop in at our meetings and drop off items for us to send. The local Rotary Club is sending 100 more packages to our Troops with names we have been able to supply to them. A local dental office has bought back Halloween candy and given it to us, over 400 pounds came in last night along with notes written by children from a local school thanking our Troops. A grandma showed up with donations and her teenage grandson, gave me the donations and left him there to help us, she said to give her a call when we were done having him work! He was quite the worker too!
The Army recruiter called me tonight, a local Pastor called him, the church has taken up a collection of items and they wanted to know who to give it to so he told them he had someone who would take it all, he made me laugh when he said he knew just who to call.
I have felt helpless, not knowing how we were going to accomplish all that I had envisioned our chapter doing to support the troops and their families, but apparently there are plans from above to show me that there are many helping hands out there. I wanted to be able to send to more then one soldier, and my wish is coming true. I know that there are many who don’t know how to help so they give, one dollar at a time, to our Troops. By doing this they don’t realize just how much they are helping each of the moms in our chapter, and all of our family members. Their outpouring of love and support is going overseas, each box as full as we can get it. You don’t have to hold a sign in support of our Troops, just go to a local Dollar Tree store and tell them you want to give to the Operation Homefront collection they are hosting.
We will sort, count, bag, and box. We will label each box, fill out the customs forms, load our vehicles and drive to the post office. We will join together, no longer helpless by ourselves, but stronger together in completing these packagings for our Troops and Wounded. With a sense of love and friendship we send those supplies over one way or another and the funds to do so will come to us, one way or another to get this done. We have enough right now to send 100 of those 150 packages to the war zone, we still need more funding to get the rest over in time for Christmas and we still have 10 large boxes that need funding to go to our Wounded in Landstuhl. That of course is my next wish! And I believe, that one way or another, it will come true.
Proud Mother of an American Soldier
I am really excited that we were able to complete our very first packaging yesterday evening with our Blue Star Mom Chapter. We had 26 boxes to send out to the Troops but it’s a start. We also had 3 LARGE boxes to send over to Landstuhl for our Wounded Warrior Project. That, to me, was so wonderfully fulfilling.
Not everyone could be there, but helping us last night were most of our Moms, my other two sons plus two friends of one of them. Yes, the friends were there initially for their own reasons (community service hours) but once we finished they had a new perspective. They have asked to be included in future events like our care package boxing night because they had fun.. Before we began, I explained to them what we were doing, who it was for and why we were doing it. One of them wasn’t sure about the wounded warrior items, what wounded, what did that mean, he asked. We spoke about our soldiers who come off the battlefield, what happens, where they go. As he began to comprehend and digest what he was being told, about what we were doing and why, he seemed to work a little harder and faster. They hauled in supplies, donated by a local Girl Scout Troop and others. They helped with the heavy stuff that we ladies couldn’t lift and once we were done, they loaded the boxes for mailing into the van for us too. They even double checked the boxes before sealing them to ensure that everything fit right. They were smiling the whole time! They drove away happy, uplifted and I’m sure that although they couldn’t really put any name to it, they just felt better.
What did it cost them? Yes, they did benefit from their time but so did we, so will others. If the gift of time is all they can afford to give, then I’ll take it! Yes, we could use more items donated to send over to the Troops. We could use assistance with our Veterans, with the families of the deployed whose homes are in disrepair, with the children of the deployed in coping with having a parent gone. Each service organization reaching out to the community through any means possible can ensure that all who have never even thought of giving the gift of time is allowed a chance to do so. There are so many people who think they are alone, who need that extra encouraging smile, that nod to help them on their path.
What can we do to help? I love those words! By reaching out to the community we touch lives in a positive way, you never know how much of a difference you will make in the life of someone else. So, yes, the homeboys will be back, and if you, your family or friends want to help out, all you have to do is let me know (if you live in my area).
As I tell the recruiters, send me their Mothers and we will take care of them, and in doing so, we take care of the family. If you don’t volunteer already, I am asking you to be a part of something bigger then yourself, be an active part of our Military Family and reach outside of your comfort zone. Veterans can volunteer in classrooms, be a volunteer reader at the library, help out with Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts or at the YMCA, check out your local police department and volunteer there to help the community. The community can volunteer at a Veteran Hospital, or collect items to send to the Troops, have a yard sale and donate the proceeds, donate blood, whatever! You will be happy you did.
Reaching Out to the Community
One of the services that we promise to provide as a member of the BSM is to educate, another is to support. While we as parents have always done this for our own children, not all of us have done this for others. It’s just not an easy thing to do, to reach out when you, yourself are hurting inside. I find that this is my own way of healing and dealing. Healing the hurt of not having my “baby” with me because he is stationed elsewhere and dealing with the worry, hurt and anger that I feel some times about his being in harms way. Many times we don’t want to give voice to what we are trying to deal with, and it’s damned hard to recognize that we cannot protect those who we have carried for 9 months. That’s why, when I received an update from militaryHOMEFRONT regarding April being the Month of the Military Child, that I decided to request the DVD’s from them (free) to share with my granddaughters.
I wanted them because my oldest granddaughter had asked her Dad just before he left for his first sandbox tour, “what if you die? What will I do?” And for the other two, one who began bedwetting because her sister started Kindergarten and having one more person “leaving” and being separated from her was more then she could take at the time. I wanted to help them be able to see that they are not alone, that other childrens daddies and mommies were not at home too.
Little did I know that so much more would come of this.
After emailing for the free DVD’s, I received an email from, and later had the pleasure of meeting Col. Patrin, MIL USA MEDCOM CMONT one of those who has worked so hard with Maj Lemmon (and many others) to create these free DVDs for the children (and families) of the deployed and who is trying to get the word out about them. My mind began going into overdrive when I started to think of how useful and far reaching this could go in my own hometown. Beginning with just 3 little girls, reaching out to local schools, counselors, mentors, FAMILIES!!! The list is practically endless as to who should & needs to view these DVDs. We are all affected by what is happening, as adults we are able to express how we feel, sometimes effectively and other times, well, not as effectively as we would like. But, imagine being 4 years old and not being able to see Dad or Mom and not really knowing why they are gone or where they are at. Or being 12 years old and having to take on chores that used to be taken care of by one of your parents, as one young man states “having to man up”. Or being a young child or teen and hearing your Mom cry when she thinks you don’t hear her and not being able to help console her, feeling helpless and defenseless. That is what our children and grandchildren are going through, we are not the only ones.
Our BSM’s previewed the teen/young adult video last night. What struck me was that all of the children interviewed in the teen/young adult DVD expressed the same feelings that we, as parents, have given voice to when we reach out to each other. Yet, they hold it in, feeling that they are alone in one way or another while their parent is deployed. I don’t know why I was surprised. Believe me, as a former Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, School Bus Driver and youth camp director, not to mention a MOM, I know when a child is not happy. Finding out what they are unhappy about however, is not always easy. Getting to know them can be a struggle if they don’t want to let you in. But, it is up to all of us, as members of the military community to seek out these families with children of the deployed to help them through this difficult time in their lives. To connect with each other as well so that we stay healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally.
What even surprised me more was how it affected our Moms who were previewing the video. An awareness dawned on all of us, that maybe, we could do something to help our military families with children. It opened up discussions about how we feel as well. My proposal to them was to ask them if they would be willing to work with me in educating our community, carrying forth our mission to help not only our Troops but those courageous ones left behind. So that is what we will be doing during the Month of the Military Child and beyond, we will be helping in any way we can, to educate the community through the use of these DVDs and their handouts and promoting other programs that are available like the Operation Purple Camp.
I believe in the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” If we don’t help to ease the minds of our Soldiers while they are away from home by helping to care for the most precious people in their lives, who will?
Our very own Mamaw has busted some butt here folks – Here is her new site. This took work, dedication, love and passion. (to get the link, please click on the title to open this post, it will then show the link)
For those of you in her area – you have a treasure. For all of us in the rest of the country, I’m hoping this will motivate you to join Blue Star Moms (Dads are welcome too! and so is the rest of the family)