What a wonderful way to encourage our troops and remind them – and ourselves – of the love of people back home who are praying for them, thinking of them, and hoping for their safe return. Read the original story here:
By Cecily Whiteside
Everybody loves getting a letter or a care package when they are far from home. Operation Interdependence combines both of these as a monthly reminder for those in the military overseas that someone back home cares. Karon Carley, Operation Interdependence National President, coordinates a volunteer army who’s mission is to see each deployed soldier get a quart bag of goodies and, most importantly, a handwritten note every month.
Boxes are sent to the commanders of the units, with each box containing 25 individual zip-locked bag for the men and women under his command. Each baggie has three or four items like sweets or a small gift, along with that all-important note.
“Every baggie has a handwritten note from a stranger,” Karon says. “It’s a way of saying ‘thank you for your service.’” She emphasizes that these words of encouragement mean a lot to the soldiers, judging by the thank you letters she has gotten back from all over the world.
By sending 25 baggies per box and distributing them through the unit commanders, Operation Interdependence can reach more soldiers with their care packages and not clog the delivery system, leaving it free to deliver much needed supplies and mail from loved ones. The boxes reach destinations all over the world – places like South Korea, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan. Operation Interdependence will even ship state-side in times natural disasters for the National Guard. Their “Department of Defense Approved” designation means that the boxes ship fast through the military postal system, arriving in as little as seven days.
Operation Interdependence is an all-volunteer organization. “There are zero people on salary,” Karon says. All the items are donated as well, from businesses and individuals. Even the shipping cost of $13.80 per box comes from donations. They are always looking for help packing, writing notes, or sorting items. “If you are three-years-old or can count to four, you can help.” Karon says.
For more information visit oidelivers.org or call 760.468.8001
Ways you can help Operation Interdependence
- Write notes; just a few lines to say “Thanks for your service”
- Help pack baggies, either at their headquarters, or at your school or organization.
- Donate products; small sealed items like sweets, personal care items and gum
- Hold a donation drive at your school or business
- Donate money for postage
- Donate supplies like Ziploc baggies or packing tape
One school-child donated a stuffed turtle when her school was holding a donation drive. It was the only thing she had to give, although it was too big to fit in a quart-sized baggie. Operation Interdependence volunteers sent the turtle on to a commander in Afghanistan with a note from the student asking if they would adopt her turtle. They did just that, making it their mascot as their unit went into local schools, allowing trust between the soldiers and the Afghan children.
“If you are three-years-old or can count to four, you can help.” Says Karon Carley, National President of Operation Interdependence.