The donation period is now open for the 20th “Packages from Home” collection drive. Step Up for Soldiers and Hometown Wilmington Media have teamed up for the event with a goal to collect donations and comfort items to send care packages to U.S. troops serving overseas.
Previous collection drives have provided more than 4,000 soldiers with care packages from home, according to Tom Russell, founder and president of Step Up for Soldiers, a local, all-volunteer nonprofit.
Donations for the collection drive will be accepted through Jan. 15. Two collection drives are held each year—one during the holidays and another to coincide with the Fourth of July. Geico is this year’s sponsor.
“We try to get anything that’s easy to clean, easy to eat, easy to carry,” Russell said. “A lot of these guys are living in not the conditions that we would like to have them living in. So when they go out on patrols, we want to give them things that they can easily carry, eat and clean.”
Most-requested items include socks, hand warmers, beef jerky, moist wipes, toothpaste, dental floss and toothbrushes. (See a more complete list of suggested items below.)
“I’m always amazed at the different things people do send—there’s candy, there’s hand warmers, there’s socks, there’s shirts. They live in conditions that we don’t understand,” Russell said. “So much has changed. When I was in Vietnam we used to go home every night. I was in an assault helicopter squad and we’d fly home back to our base….These guys are living in the middle of nowhere. God bless ’em.”
Books and magazines will not be accepted because they’re too expensive to ship, Russell said. Monetary donations payable to Step Up for Soldiers are accepted to help offset the shipping cost of the care packages. Each package costs more than $15 to ship.
Donations can be dropped off at the Hometown Wilmington Media office located at 3303 Burnt Mill Drive and at the Wilmington Family YMCA Express Y at 11 S. Kerr Ave. near the corner of Market and Kerr. If a church group or other organization has a large quantity of items to collect, Russell will pick up the items. He can be reached at (910) 297-4981.
If you have a loved one deployed and would like to for them to receive a care package through Step Up For Soldiers, send the address to email@example.com. To learn more about Step Up for Soldiers and their ongoing efforts to help troops and veterans, click here.
Suggested items to donate:
- Phone cards
- Baby wipes
- Beef jerky
- Hard candy
- Travel-size games
- Playing cards
- Pocket knife/multi-tool
- Powdered drinks
- Socks and underwear
- Body spray/body wash
- Blue and black pens
- Pictures from home
- Thumb tacks
- Digital or disposable camera
- Fly paper
- Puzzles, crosswords