Care Packages Provide Troops Comfort

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2007 - "Operation Care and Comfort" is on a mission to provide support and comfort to military units deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions of conflict.

Since April 2003, the California-based Operation Care and Comfort organization has shipped more than 250,000 pounds of care packages to its more than 60 "adopted" units. More than 100 units are waiting to be adopted.

"Working within our community and through donations received from all over the country, we assemble and ship care packages to our adopted units every month until they return home," Julie DeMaria, the group's co-founder, said. "Our unique program allows caring Americans to donate their time, talent and treasure to honor those serving our country."

While care packages are its main focus, Operation Care and Comfort also works with San Francisco Bay area sports teams to offer "Tickets for the Troops." Through this program, the group distributes donated sporting-event tickets to servicemembers and their families.

Another program, "Adopt a Military Family" helps military families with specific needs at the holidays. Working through military liaisons, civilian families anonymously adopt military families during the holidays.

"Although the families never meet, I've been told by the civilian families that helping a military family was one of the best things they could have done at Christmastime," DeMaria said.

Operation Care and Comfort is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families at home and abroad.

DeMaria said membership in America Supports You benefits the organization's efforts.

"It does add credibility, press opportunities and exposure," she said.

She added that her group's affiliation with America Supports You has allowed for other unique opportunities. Operation Care and Comfort was one of about a dozen America Supports You home-front groups invited to the White House to meet with President Bush in February. The president has hosted home-front groups on four different occasions since March 2006. "Meeting the president was an added bonus," DeMaria said.

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