default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Tara Phillips’ Totes for Troops project is a total success

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:55 am, Fri Aug 10, 2012.

Standing in her Lodi backyard, surrounded by blue and white post office boxes stuffed with lunch totes, letters and treats, with the refuse of hundreds of small snack packages scattered on the lawn, Tara Phillips breathed a sigh of relief.

She managed to find donors and fill all 100 treat totes for the men and women serving in her brother's unit in Afghanistan.

James Tecklenburg, 22, enlisted in the Army this year and deployed in May for a 9-month tour of duty as a cook. Phillips wanted to collect care packages for everyone in his unit, and thought she'd have maybe 25 names to check off a list. Instead, there are 100 men and women serving with her brother.

Through donations from friends, family, Lodi businesses and kind strangers, enough money and snacks were provided to make Totes for Troops a reality.

"I would come home each day from running errands, and there would be more stuff on my porch. Sometimes they would leave a note, but sometimes it was a total stranger," she said. "It's amazing all the stuff we got."

In fact, Phillips got more donations than will fit in the totes. She plans to sort them into small bags and share them with homeless people until the supply runs out.

A team of supporters descended on Phillips' home on Thursday to pack up all the totes in 50 boxes to send off by the end of next week.

Four long tables formed a half-circle in the backyard. Filling them was several bins of candy, trail mix, snack, gum and treats. Posters with the names of donors hung from each table. The volunteers formed an assembly line and got every bag packed in a couple of hours. Kids played in the yard while moms, dads and grandparents got the job done.

Each soldier will receive a small tote bag with "USA HERO" or "THANK YOU" embroidered on the front, filled with snacks, treats and a small Bible. Students from the child development class at San Joaquin Delta College wrote thank you notes and made small flags with handprints to send in each box.

Ann Merhton, representing Project Thank You, came by to assist. Project Thank You has donated $500 to ship the packages to Afghanistan.

Phillips is looking forward to having her office space open for use again, but she is grateful to everyone in Lodi and beyond who helped her reach the goal.

"I want to say thanks to all these people for stepping up. They don't know my brother. They don't know the men and women he's with. This is so personal. It's given me the perspective that people are still good," said Phillips.

And what does the brother think of all this?

"He liked it. He's pretty proud," said Phillips. "He said, 'That's just too cool, sis, too cool.'"

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 23


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists