America's Moms for Soldiers Hits Milestone With More Than 40,000 Care Packages Delivered

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Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan receive care packages with essentials and treats each week from America's Moms for Soldiers.

I want to inspire people to be involved and to see what our troops go through

America’s Moms for Soldiers announced today a milestone in service as they surpass more than 40,000 care packages sent to military troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All they planned to do was send a few needed supplies to the friends of their Army sons. Instead, those few mothers made a much larger commitment, pledging to support U.S. troops until the last ones return from Afghanistan.

Nearly five years and more than 43,000 care packages later, America’s Moms for Soldiers remains one of the nation’s most reliable charitable organizations supporting active troops. It is believed to be the only one specifically sending to those who do not receive mail.

America’s Moms for Soldiers is the only certified 501(c)(3) charity in Broward County, Fla., sending care packages to Afghanistan.

Working with officers and chaplains, America’s Moms mails an average of 1,100 care packages per month to troops who do not receive extra supplies and support from home. Despite plans for all troops to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, America’s Moms just had two of its busiest months, sending more than 1,700 care packages in August and again in September.

The war has faded from the front pages and most nightly news shows, but more than 60,000 troops remain in Afghanistan.

Many are very young, just a year or two out of high school, lonely and not knowing when the next attack may come.

Some are facing winter at remote mountain outposts; others patrol still dangerous villages. Too often, they are short on supplies.

That’s where America’s Moms for Soldiers comes in.

It is an all-volunteer staff based in donated office space in Pompano Beach, Fla., with one mission: Never let a soldier walk away from mail call with nothing.

Volunteers attend many community events, inviting the public to sign banners with their personal messages of thanks and support. An annual Veterans Day concert salutes those who have served in the past. Financial donations received at these events are primarily used to cover mailing expenses of nearly $4,000 per month.

Over those five years, America’s Moms has received consistent support from many South Florida organizations. The Girl Scouts and their supporters have contributed more than 35,000 boxes of cookies the past two years. Team President Pat Riley, center Chris Bosh and the NBA champion Miami Heat have sponsored packing events. One teen-ager completed his Eagle Scout project by gathering needed supplies.

Churches, companies, social groups and others have shown their support for the troops. Dozens of schools have conducted supply drives and some students have had fun packing boxes themselves.

One student has especially shown her commitment.

Veronica Heredia had heard so many stories of war from her Marine brother that when she awakened from her own surgery she had only one thing on her mind – how could she serve the troops.

Heredia, 18 and a senior at Hialeah Gardens High School, was soon back working with America’s Moms for Soldiers in gathering care packages. She called her project “Operation Support Our Troops” and asked students to decorate and prepare shoe boxes filled with supplies. Last year, she gathered 200 care packages, and this year, she surpassed her goal of 500 with 554 piling up in her family’s living room.

Heredia said she began the project to honor her brother who served two tours in Iraq and is still recovering from a back injury.

“My brother told me all they went through and how some never received anything. I wanted to help,” she said.

Even through chemotherapy and radiation after surgery to remove a kidney, she was more interested in helping others than worrying about her own illness. The cancer is in remission and she is busy making plans for college and continuing to show her appreciation to America’s military.

“I want to inspire people to be involved and to see what our troops go through,” she said.

She says that “it was a blessing to have cancer because it helped me open up some hearts.”

America’s Moms’ care packages are filled with hygiene items, snacks and nutritional foods. As winter nears, each holiday package will include a fleece blanket. Occasionally, a soldier will email with the most basic request – a few pairs of socks or a few extra granola bars.

But whatever they receive, they mostly appreciate that someone remembers them. Perhaps it was best explained by an officer who started delivering care packages during a lonely Christmas at a small base in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“They were all so thankful, and for a moment, forgot it was going to be a long Christmas night,” the officer emailed. “Each one of the soldiers came to thank me for bringing them the boxes and I told each of them where the boxes came from.

“Thank you for helping me bring some Christmas cheer to young soldiers who are so far from home. Thank you so much for caring about somebody who serves so far away.”

About America’s Mom’s for Soldiers
America’s Moms for Soldiers sends monthly care packages to solider, Marines and Airmen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who receive little or no mail from home. Many of the servicemen and women we support are assigned to Forward Operating Bases and Outposts where they do not have access to basic items such as snacks, hygiene supplies, personal health articles like foot power, lip balm and baby wipes, as well as a variety of treats. We work directly with Chaplains and Commanders to coordinate our efforts to provide support to those who do not receive care packages from home. If your organization would like to help support the troops, please visit http://www.americasmomsforsoldiers.com or call 954-358-9358.

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Judy Smith
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