Cross-posted by Maggie at Maggie's Notebook
Bob Williams in Wesley Chapel, Florida sends 215 packages weekly to the military in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and Kyrgyzstan - EVERY WEEK OF THE YEAR - 215 packages stuffed with necessities and comfort items for our men an women in uniform, fighting the War on Terror.
According to Stars and Stripes, Mr. Williams served in the Navy in the 1960's. His sons now handle the family businesses, while he works for the troops, preparing the boxes destined for approximately 200 combat-zone bases.
The short story is that donations are needed to cover the postage. Mr. Williams and OurTroopsOnline.com spends approximately $8,000.00 a week in postage, from $20.00 to $45.00 per package, depending on the contents. He always has packages ready to mail, but often lacks the necessary postage.
Much of what Williams sends are donations: baseball bats and gloves, games of all kinds, grips to put on the soles of boot, unending supplies of popcorn, and items for children in hospitals and orphanages - which the troops use to help gain the trust of the locals. All the usual foods and toiletries are either donated or purchased
He receives thousands of email requests from troops and their families and friends, and much of those requests are paid for from his own pocket. Items like Q-tips, batteries, shampoo, feminine and personal hygiene items, and deodorant are constant requests. Williams will not say how much he personally spends but the website says it is significant.
Camouflage scarves are inscribed with messages to the troops by Florida school children and church groups. "The scarves are good for keeping dust and sand out of your nose and mouth," says Williams.
There are no expenses for this volunteer group. No one gets paid, there's no rent for a warehouse, no office space rent, and while I made two telephone calls to OurTroopsOnline to verify this information (a human actually answered both times - no option for a choice of language preference, and no need to leave a message), no one gets paid to answer the telephone - everyone is a volunteer.
OurTroopsOnline accepts cash or checks for postage. Make your check payable as follows:
P.O. Box 7560
Wesley Chapel, FL 33545
If you live in the area and want to donate items for the boxes, call 813-991-9400 for a delivery address or contact Mr. Williams by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a business and have items the troops need or will enjoy, and can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, please contact Mr. Williams.
This is a year-round operation - it doesn't end in December. Put these people on your donation list throughout the year and know you are doing your part to make life a little more comfortable for our military in these combat zones.