Group Gets New Home, National Sponsor

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2006 - In just a few short months, the Phoenix-based Packages From Home organization has found a new home and a new sponsor, the group's director of marketing and media relations said.

Packages From Home began as a mother's labor of love in March 2004, with sending 20 to 30 care packages a month to her son in Iraq. Since then it has grown into a 1,500- package-a-month operation, which had, until June, been operating out of a temporarily donated 900-square-foot facility.

"With three times the space to sort, process and ship, our goal will be 2,000 to 2,500 care packages a month," Dave Whitten said of the new 3,100 square foot facility on the Phoenix Memorial Hospital campus.

The hospital learned of Packages From Home's situation after seeing a story on a local TV station, he said. In fact, the organization had several offers for donated space, but the hospital's suite its needs best.

Not only is the new facility spacious, it has a separate office perfect for sorting donated items and two large rooms for packing boxes and preparing them for shipment. It also is climate controlled, handicapped-accessible and centrally located, making it convenient for the volunteers, Whitten said.

The new space also easily fits into the organization's budget.

"Phoenix Memorial Hospital is providing the building rent and utility free for the next year, with the option for a second (year) and maybe more," Whitten said. "The building fit what Packages from Home needed, in a huge way!"

Packages from Home is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation's servicemembers.

As the organization was looking for its new digs, it stumbled across its first national sponsor, Whitten said.

He was driving his wife to a doctor appointment when he saw a Carlyle Van Lines, Inc. truck. He noticed the "Support Our Troops" sticker and decided to call and see if the company would be interested in sponsoring Packages from Home.

The Warrenburg, Mo.-based company, which specializes in military moves, readily agreed, he said.

All of its 53-foot trucks will sport the Packages from Home logo, which includes the organization's Web site, Whitten said. The company also will help promote the organization with exposure in national moving association and trade magazines.

"This exposure should help raise funds for our number one expense," Whitten said, noting that postage for a single care package can run $8.20. That's a whopping $8,200 or more a month for shipping alone.

Susan Walker, director of operations for Packages from Home, also received a donation from the moving company in early September during an unveiling of one of the trucks with the Packages from Home logo, Whitten added.

With one unveiling complete, the organization is looking forward to the grand opening of its new facility in early November. Invited guests will include local, state and national officials, he said.

"I have to say that I am proud of what this organization has accomplished," Whitten said. "(Our new facility) will allow us to let many more of our troops know that the patriots of this country do care about them and support them 100 percent."

[Web Version:]