Recognizing those who helped provide holiday gifts for troops |

Recognizing those who helped provide holiday gifts for troops

Judy Whitmore
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted PhotoShawna and Sarah Blevins help prepare holiday gift packages for troops overseas.

Thanks to a letter to the editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the mother of a young man serving in the U.S. Navy currently deployed in support of the war in Afghanistan received several hundred dollars worth of donations to send to her son’s ship and to troops on the ground.

She also had the help of volunteer hands to stuff and send the 17 boxes sent to the ship, and then six additional boxes sent to troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Trevor O’Link, a 2006 graduate of Basalt High School, serves on the U.S.S. Nimitz, an aircraft carrier located in the waters of the Indian Ocean. The ship and its accompanying ships in the group house more than 6,000 sailors and marines. When the support group called “Navy Moms” – which has dads, spouses, grandparents, etc., not just moms – realized their loved ones will be deployed over the holidays, the mom’s group decided that everyone needed a gift bag for the holidays. Many are serving for their first time away from home, and some of our troops do not receive any mail from home.

Trevor’s mother, Judy Whitmore, decided she could do the last 131 that needed to be done, and 131 later turned into 150 individual gift bags. The Navy Moms wanted cards from people at home saying thanks to the troops for their service. Items like candy, jerky, dental floss, lip balm, small toys, snacks and other goodies would round out the gift bags. So, when Whitmore put the plea in the paper for help, she received many wonderful responses.

Both, the fourth and fifth grade classes at Sopris Elementary wrote cards to the troops, as did Rachel Balerio’s third-grade class from Wamsley Elementary School. The Elk Creek Elementary Preschool gave paintings and banners. Some adults and individual families took on some of the gift bags, too.

The Glenwood High School Cheerleaders, Glenwood Dance Academy students, and the FBLA club, wrote cards for the troops. The Goolsby family made their own cards and stuffed 10 bags. The Rebekkah Lodge from Carbondale contributed snacks and other goodies. Whitmore’s assistant, Nicole Archibald and her family Keith, Madison and Preston, spent hours stuffing bags. As well as, Shawna and Sarah Blevins spent half a day with Whitmore finishing off about half of the bags, packing them for shipping.

From the day the letter hit the paper, the Brown family, including Ron Brown, Lorrie and their children, ordered toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss and lip balm for 131 bags. They also coordinated the making of some great cards from some of the Glenwood High School students.

Starbucks in the mall, thanks to Anita, donated many instant coffee envelopes that they had asked their customers to write on saying thanks to the troops. Others who donated were Judy Douglas, Evelyn Kriz, Priska Berkheimer, Cindy Jensen, Lori Fairbanks and family, Sheri Scruby and Annie Cooke, and Betty Scranton helped Whitmore by donating to the shipping costs, and a generous donor – who wished to remain anonymous – donated a Walmart gift card.

After the 17 boxes were shipped, items and cards still came in the door. So, Judy went on the website and found marines serving in Afghanistan who needed help. One was a corporal from Texas who said it was getting cold and he and his group needed long johns, socks and basic toiletry items. A marine major in Afghanistan whose “kids” serve in remote areas said he would distribute the items to them. One large bag to the corporal, and four more standard APO boxes later to the major, and all the cards, letters, coffee, snacks, candy, decorations, toys and other useful items were on their way.

“I would like to send my gratitude to this wonderful community for pitching in and making this ‘131 Project’ and the Afghanistan Ground Troops Project a great success,” Whitmore said. “Your generosity for the troops serving faraway, is most appreciated.”

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