OT - Interesting Volunteer Opportunity To Help The Families Of Our Troops

I just spent a few hours volunteering with an organization called Full Circle Home.
http://www.fullcirclehome.org/
I'll call it a "Reverse Care Package" system. The organization collects small, donated gifts (perfume, key chains, chocolates, etc.) and then gift wraps and packages them so that the troops can send the gifts back to their loved ones at home.
The troops fill out a form and write a handwritten note before deploying. Full Circle Home collects the forms, puts the notes in a box with various gifts and then sends them to the loved ones at home. They do a Christmas mailing, a Mother's Day mailing, etc. They also include a small package of tissues in each box. The troops never actually see the package, since they are all mailed from the states, but they do get a list of what is in the box so that they know what their loved ones will receive.
The organizers told me that some people rip into the boxes as soon as they get it, others wait until they are skyping with their loved one overseas and open one small box each time they talk, others gather family members together and open the gifts as a group.
I gotta admit, it brought a tear or two my eyes. For those with some spare time, you might want to consider contacting Full Circle Home and finding out if they have a chapter near you or know of a similar organization that you could help out.
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On Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 11:23:07 AM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Wonder if a dinner gift is able to be given, rather than a boxed treat. Re: A gift certificate to Prejeans Restaurant.... one of my favorite eateries.
Seems many restaurants have a live cam in service, these days.
The serviceman could tune in, online, and see their relatives, on a live feed, enjoying their treat.... while skyping, too.
Sonny
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On Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 1:25:36 PM UTC-4, Sonny wrote:

I can pass that along, although the gifts are of much less value than a dinner.
If I understand the process correctly, every box contains the exact same items. By getting the exact same items and the exact same boxes and ribbons, etc. the process stays organized. We were stuffing small white boxes with key chains on a cardboard backing, then wrapping them with a red ribbon, attaching a gift tag and placing them in a bigger box for transport. It was like an assembly line...I think we did about 500 pieces.
This afternoon's group is basically doing the same thing, but they will be wrapping ~500 perfume boxes.
If the boxes all differed or gifts were tailored to specific geographic locations, keeping it organized would be a nightmare. This isn't Amazon, just a couple of women volunteers who had loved ones deployed and realized how great it felt whenever they heard from them. They are basically "forcing the issue" by having the chaplain, etc. gather the troops before deployment and saying "Fill this out, right here, right now." Some military bases that have signed up for the program include the process as part of their pre-deployment activities. They make it easy for the troops, but it's really for those who are at home.
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On 6/22/2016 12:58 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Which, in turn, again makes it much easier on troops far away from home ...
BTW, thank you for doing that!
There are others here on wRec who really go out of their way to help active duty personnel and veterans.
Robert, our own "Nailshooter41", is one of those.
Robert is very active, and instrumental, in feeding hundreds of wounded Vets on the big holidays each year, and has been doing it for the years I've known him.
My hats off to all of you who do likewise.
Just for the record. Anyone looking to give to a good cause to help veterans and their families, also consider the Fisher House Foundation.
https://www.fisherhouse.org/
Down through the years I've had the opportunity to see firsthand the wonders the Fisher House folks provide in the not so simple task of making it possible for disabled veterans to have their families close at hand when they need someone the most.
Thank you again ...
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On Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 3:18:12 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:



+1

I can endorse the Fisher House cause. I donate each year, on behalf of two of my nephews efforts. My nephews have run several Marine Marathons, whic h the proceeds of go to Fisher House. A few years ago, it was nice to go v isit with their team and other participants.... watch them run, had refresh ments afterwards, etc., etc.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/43836144@N04/27232827914/in/dateposted-public /
More cow bell!!! https://www.flickr.com/photos/43836144@N04/27232780314/in/dateposted-public /
Sonny
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On Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 3:18:12 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:



Kind words, Karl. Thanks.
I haven't been around for a while, but thought this topic could use a bump. It's the 4th of July, and in the military town I live in we use that as a nother day to celebrate not only our freedom but those who serve and have s erved to protect it.
I would like to echo the thoughts here of supporting the Fisher House. Abo ut three years ago I started a small non-profit with the help of some like- minded individuals and it has done better than I ever expected. Our organi zation is an all volunteer outfit, and since I wrote the charter, all dolla rs go directly to assist those in need. No overhead, no bookkeeping fees, no tax prep, no compensation for the group in any way. We are small, but m ighty!
Every year we have a Memorial Day (fitting weekend!)BBQ, and we ask for don ations. With a donation you get a hefty plate of Texas style BBQ with all the sides, sodas, tea and as long as they last, brownies. It is about 3 mo nths in planning since we are an all volunteer group working around one ano ther's work/family schedules. Our group ranges in age from about 25 to 78, and everyone does as much as they can to make the event work. We rent a h uge pavilion at a local park and start around 8 in the morning, and this ye ar we finished around 10pm.
I drag everyone into the act, reminding them that 100% of our net goes to o ur non profit. Our net is determined after cost to rent the park, and seve ral hundred dollars for cups, to go containers, silverware kits, hundreds o f pounds of ice, $400 worth of brisket, 15 pounds of potato salad, 5 gallon s of beans, a couple of hundred bags of chips, and on an on an on are taken out. We get food donations from a couple of distributors, cigars to smoke (and raffle)from our local cigar store hangout, and all the boys that part icipate (and the significant others!) always bring stuff to make it go well . It takes 4 pickups to get the boiling pots, utensils, serving tables, ic e chests, aprons, gloves, and on an on at to the site. It takes another tw o family vans to get all the food out. The logistics and scheduling of all the volunteers is a real project in itself.
Our first event several years (not a non profit yet)ago netted us about $17 5 and we did the whole thing on my credit card we served about 40 people, l ost our butts on the BBQ, but had a full margarita machine on site left the re for a a party that didn't happen, so we sold frozen margaritas for a $2. Otherwise we would have been underwater!
Fast forward through the years of learning to do this well, who does what b est, which of our volunteers are the most reliable, and we are here. This year was our biggest year. We served about three hundred plates (!!) and ju st about nailed our food supply perfectly. I set up a "to go" table, and I was pleased to see the containers leaving 3-5 at a time, there as it left a little less for us to clean up at the end. Our net (with additional cash donations)was just a bit under $3K!
So where does the money go? As Karl mentioned, it has been our pleasure to serve holiday meals at the Fisher House for several years. The proceeds f rom all of the hard work buys turkey, ham, a ton of sides and lots of desse rts. Our spot is Christmas Eve. It speaks to the quality of the men and w omen that support our event that they give up their own family time to help others. I have never had problems getting all the volunteers I need to ma ke the Christmas Eve dinner run well. I am truly blessed to be the quarter back of a great team. And just being involved with my comrades and their w ives, and having the opportunity to do our little bit for the troops and th eir families is a huge reward all in itself.
So some of the money goes to the dinner, but it goes to other places as wel l. We send out a few hundred cigars to the troops in battle zones, and I c annot tell you guys here how popular that is to them. I have had not only great letters of thanks back, but have been sitting in a work area at the c igar club I go and have met people that made it a point to tell me they wer e on the front line in Afghanistan and Iraq when they got their cigars. Re turning troops find me just to let me know how important a few cigars were to them. Little things can really mean a lot when you don't have them.
Since we have built a better bank than I ever thought we would have, I am g oing to ramp up our efforts. With a successful BBQ under out belt and a fe w funds from the previous years (unlike the Wounder Warriors Project, no ex penses can really be a boon to saving money) we have a new project I am inv estigating. Unfortunately, the local guy that runs our Fisher House has de cided he a great humanitarian (nope... just another of the thousands of ret ired Colonels that live here)so he won't speak to me about my new plan. Ho wever, the lady in charge of the facility has been there since day one, and she loves all of us as much as we love her.
They are trying to come up with a way we can make a straight donation to th e families that can go right in their pockets. We are thinking that maybe gift certificates for $50 for the families to spend (to take their family m ember off base for a meal), purchasing some of the items that the families need for their stay here, and even sponsoring some of the family living qua rters for a week of stay. What a kick it would be for us to be able to hav e our Christmas Eve dinner AND sponsor a few families for a week!
If anyone is still reading this far down, the point of it all is that any s mall effort for the Fisher House is a good thing. I never saw myself start ing a non profit, I never had a remote clue we would be as successful as we are with our efforts, and I never thought they would automatically reserve Christmas Eve at the Fisher House for our little group.
And it all started with hot dogs and sausage on a grill and a rented margar ita machine we didn't pay for.


Well said, Karl. The doctors that work at the hospital (SAMMC/Brooks)have told me that family time is a huge component of healing for the men and wom en at the hospital being treated for anything and everything that happens i n battle. I have nothing good to say about what the Wounded Warriors group has morphed into; but I cannot say enough good things about the Fisher Hous e.
Robert
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