VERO BEACH — Nearly 1,600 military service men and women stationed overseas will have a Christmas when packages begin to arrive later next month – all thanks to Military Moms and the greater Indian River County community.
“Each box becomes Christmas for soldiers who don’t get mail,” said Military Moms Prayer Group member Joyce Desrosiers.
For Sgt. Michael Gallahue, there was nothing better than receiving a package from home while stationed in Iraq. “It’s really touching,” he said Saturday, as he helped to pack boxes for fellow soldiers overseas.
The 25-year-old Vero Beach resident is currently stationed at Fort Stewart, in Georgia, after returning home from Iraq on May 28. He spent 14 months in Middle East – his first tour.
“It’s a little heartbreaking and stressful at times,” the sergeant said of deploying overseas and knowing that in about a year, he’ll be going back again.
This is the fourth year Military Moms Prayer Group has organized Holidays for Heroes – what it calls its care package drive.
The group and many other volunteers gathered over the weekend to pack boxes filled with cards, letters, snacks and other comforts from home.
“It’s all just volunteers,” Desrosiers said.
The 1,600 packages are due to be sent out by Tuesday, Dec. 1, to ensure that they are delivered in time for Christmas.
The effort grew out of member Linda Colontrelle’s Treats for the Troops idea. With a son serving in Iraq, Colontrelle wanted to make sure that he and his outfit knew they were remembered. And even though her son is home, Colontrelle is continuing the effort.
“I refuse to give up until everyone comes home,” she said.
The Military Moms Prayer Group will soon be shifting gears to send packages to soldiers for Valentine’s Day – the last chance to send chocolates to the Middle East for the year.
Between November and February, the region is cool enough that chocolates won’t melt. It’s the only time the military allows chocolates to be shipped due to the mess melted chocolate can make.
While the group has enough money to cover the Christmas shipments, members are looking for help covering the cost of the Valentine’s Day boxes.
Monetary donations may be made out to Military Moms Prayer Group and sent to P.O. Box 643511, Vero Beach, FL 32964.
They are also taking donated items that can be shipped to the troops. The following is a list of the most requested items the military service men and women ask for:
Powdered drink mixes (lemonade, Gatorade, Tang, hot chocolate)
Nuts (mixed, peanuts, trail mix) and microwave popcorn
Peanut butter in individual packets
Wet wipes or baby wipes
Protein bars and granola bars
Meat products such as beef jerky/Slim Jims, canned or foil wrapped tuna/chicken/corned beef
Visa/Mastercard gift cards
For more information, call (772) 231-2221, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.MilitaryMomsPrayerGroup.com.