Charity for Charities

Interviews With the Winning Charities

Page 3


Operation Shoebox

Eight Place: $200                                                                      155 Votes


Operation Shoebox

What is the mission of Operation Shoebox?

Our mission is to send care packages to as many men and women that are deployed that we can. To hopefully help lift their morale and to let them know that there are people that care about them and the sacrifices they make for our country and those of us that live here.

Tell us three things we probably don’t know about Operation Shoebox.

That Operation Shoebox not only sends care packages to the troops but we also ship Wounded Warrior bags to our wounded on the front lines, School supplies, toys and shoes to our troops to be distributed to the Iraq, Afghanistan Children and also some in Kosovo. We are also supporters of the veterans by assisting the VFW home.

What has been the biggest factor in the success of Operation Shoebox?

Our volunteers of course! They are the best volunteers ever and they are so dedicated to our troops and they love them. They pray for their safe return and their care packages are made with lots of love.

Share one or two stories about people your charity has helped.

There are so many awesome troops that we have sent to and how can you pick one or two? I will tell you about two soldiers that I feel go over and above their duty in Iraq. One is SGT Clayton Cherry who is one of our troops that we send literally tons of stuff to and he takes it on his personal time and makes sure that these things are available to those that need it. He has delivered wounded warrior bags to the troops that are on the front lines that are injured and brought to the CSH. He gets supplies to the troops through contacts that would otherwise not get them and he has taken tons of books to make sure the troops have something to read. He pushes these boxes around on cart at the camp he is at. He is truly an amazing young man.

The second troop that I would have to tell you about is SSG Victor Settles who spends most of his free time with the children of Iraq. He distributes book bags, toys, school supplies, helps with the Girl and Boy Scout troops there, plays soccer with the kids and helps his fellow troops. He is an amazing soldier and both these troops are ambassadors to the Iraqi people and their fellow troops. They are awesome representatives of the American people. Truly amazing soldiers that go way above and beyond!

How will Operation Shoebox use the donation from Charity for Charities?

We will use our donation towards postage costs to get our packages to the troops.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We would like to thank AllMilitary for getting the word out and for all your work and to our fellow charities out there for the awesome work they do and keep up the good work our troops still need us!

Comments By

Mary Harper
President / Founder
Operation Shoebox

Operation First Response

Ninth Place: $200                                                                     104 Votes


Operation First Response

What is the mission of Operation First Response?

Operation First Response, Inc support’s our Nation’s wounded Heroes and their families with personal and financial needs.  

Tell us three things we probably don’t know about your Operation First Response.  

  1. We have helped nearly 3000 wounded service members and their families.  
  2. We have sent over 3000 backpacks filled with clothing and hygiene to the combat support hospital in Iraq.  
  3. Our President’s Peggy Baker’s son is deployed to Iraq and our Vice President Carolyn Crossley’s husband is deployed to Iraq.

What has been the biggest factor in the success of Operation First Response?

The compassion and respect the OFR staff holds for our service members and their families.

Share one or two stories about people Operation First Response has helped.

First Response’ Helps Wounded Troops
By Carmen L. Gleason / American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2007 - The soldier’s eyelids fluttered as he heard his mother’s voice over the phone.

In a coma, it was the first time there had been any response from Army Spc. Jerry De La Cruz since he had arrived to Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from the combat zone in Iraq.

By holding a cell phone to his ear, a perfect stranger made it possible for Cathy Holcomb to whisper words of encouragement to her son from the other side of the world, telling him that she loved him and wanted him to make it home alive.

Tears ran down Carolyn Crossley’s checks as she held the phone to his ear and tenderly grasped his hand that day.

An Army wife whose son had been a Marine, Crossley understood this mother’s agony in not being by her son’s side. At the same time, her heart went out to all the war-torn troops in the hospital ward who didn’t have families with them in their time of need.

It was on that day that she silently promised herself that she would be by their sides when their own families could not and she would be there to help support those families who were.

Only two days before, Crossley had linked up with Peggy Baker to offer her assistance in helping troops after coming across Baker’s name on the Internet. Baker, whose son was in the Army, had been visiting the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here for more than a year, but she wanted to do more.

Baker, in Culpeper, Va., was the one who initially received the phone call from the desperate mother and contacted her new-found counterpart in Germany for assistance.

Crossley said she was hooked from the very beginning. Her obvious love for the troops and previous medical experience led hospital leadership to immediately ask her to join their ranks by working as a nurse on the ward, and the groundwork for Operation First Response was laid.

Operation First Response is one of the first members of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, a program helping connect home-front groups with servicemembers and their families.

Initially, the nonprofit group focused on supplying patients with backpacks filled with a new set of clothes, personal hygiene items, a phone card and a handmade blanket upon their arrival to medical centers. The group since has branched out to assist servicemembers with financial needs, such as helping to provide airfare for families or offsetting living costs when spouses or parents miss work to stay by a wounded relative’s bedside.

Since the duo joined forces in 2004, they have touched the lives of more than 2,000 families who have come through Landstuhl and Walter Reed, in addition to other medical facilities.

The Operation First Response staff has grown to five members who work around the clock to help servicemembers. Crossley’s husband has since been stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. She said she hopes to continue her outreach efforts for wounded troops at the installation’s Womack Army Medical Center.

“It’s an honor to be making an impact on these heroes’ lives,” Baker said. “The mere fact that these young men and women step up to the plate and putting their lives on the line for the country is … well, more than words can express.”

More than offering tangible donations, the organization gives emotional support as well.

“My focus has always been working with families and offering a shoulder for them to cry on,” Crossley said.

Many families are on emotional roller coasters when seeing their injured soldier for the first time, she said. The emotions usually go from anger, to grief, to sandess and, with the help of First Response volunteers, to hope.

Volunteers from the organization visit wounded troops weekly, bringing by their favorite soda, or food in case a patient misses a meal due to an appointment, or giving them a little cash to live off of while in the hospital.

Most importantly, Baker said, they bring friendship. She considers each one to be part of her extended family.

“When you do that every week, you become very close with a family,” she said. “You develop a bond. I can’t find the words to describe how this has impacted me.”

“It comforts me to know that there is an organization like yours out there to give families like mine comfort when they need it most,” an Army wife said on the organization’s Web site. “There is nothing like an organization that can give you love and emotional support.”

In cases when their organization can’t meet the requests of families, Baker and Crossley are quick to point them in the direction of support groups who can. By networking with other America Supports You members, Operation First Response can help fulfill the needs of a soldier or their family.

“The (Defense Department) support is invaluable,” Baker said. “(Each home-front group’s) scope is a slightly different, so if I can’t help a troop, I know someone who can.”

How will Operation First Response use the donation from Charity for Charities? 

It will be applied to the needs of a wounded service member.

Comments By

Peggy Baker
President
Operation First Response

Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund

Raffle Winner: $100


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