Veterans, active troops need support all year long
Among those to remember during the holiday season are military veterans and troops actively serving our country.
The Blue Star Mothers of Southwestern Pennsylvania sends care packages to active military service members throughout the year including the holidays, helps homeless veterans and offers support for mothers of active troops and veterans.
“We send year round. We do send for Christmas,” said Leslie Majocka, president of the Southwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America.
Care packages were recently sent to troops, the Red Cross and United Services Organization which distribute them to troops for Christmas, she said. The Christmas packages, which were handmade stockings filled with goodies, have to be sent four to six weeks in advance to arrive in time for Christmas, she said.
“This past week we sent 1,000 stockings, small homemade stockings made by local ladies,” Majocka said. “They sew them; we fill them with socks, pillow cases, tuna packets, candy and crackers. We sent them to several units and the Red Cross.”
She said care packages containing those items, which troops like, but have difficulty obtaining while deployed, are sent several times a year to troops serving overseas.
Donations of those items as well as cookies, nuts and other food that service members can put in their pockets and eat when they have time are always needed. The organization also accepts monetary donations to help pay for shipping, which costs $20 to $30 per package, Majocka said.
In addition, Blue Star Mothers sends donated clothing and nonperishable food to the Veterans Leadership Program, a national organization that has an office in Pittsburgh, to support its program to help homeless veterans, she said.
Blue Star Mothers also serves as a support group for women whose children are serving or have served in the military. The organization currently has 54 members.
“As much as we support the military, we support each other,” Majocka said. “Especially with the deployed, having a social group with people who understand is important. All mothers of active military or veterans, we’re always looking for new members.”
Because the chapter’s website is under construction, women wishing to join and people wishing to donate should email Majocka at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 412-897-5033.
VA Butler Healthcare’s Voluntary Services Department manages the VA’s Adopt-A-Veteran program that matches veterans in the VA nursing home, domiciliary or community based facilities with donors who buy them clothing and toiletries.
Christmas gifts have already been purchased for veterans in the program, but people who want to support the program or make donations for Christmas next year should call the Voluntary Services Department at 724-477-5010.
The Yellow Ribbon Girls of Ellwood City sent packages to deployed service members for 20 years, but disbanded in February due to a retirement.
Military Mission of Beaver County, a group made up of some former members of the Yellow Ribbon Girls, is picking up where they left off.
Linda Komara, secretary/treasurer of Military Mission, said the group sent 20 care packages last week and is planning to send 12 more next week. After that, the group hopes to send packages every other month, she said.
Donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, wash clothes and socks are needed, she said. Volunteers from a church make pillow cases for the troops and the stockings that hold the Christmas care packages, Komara said.
“We get about 400 stockings, and we stuff as much into them as we can. We got a lot more help than we anticipated, and I think it will grow,” Komara said.
She said the packages are sent to the USO, which distributes them to troops. Deployed troops are regularly moved and the USO is able to get the packages into their hands, she said.
People wishing to donate needed items or cash to cover postage costs should send them to Military Mission of Beaver County, 895 Corporation St., Unit 203, Beaver, PA 15009. People with questions can email Komara at LJKomara@hotmail.com or Barb Novak, president, at LAR15009@yahoo.com.