Lodi’s Support Our Troops will spend almost $22,000 on postage this holiday season to send roughly 2,000 care packages to military troops in the Middle East.
Each package has 60 items, ranging from dental floss to homemade scarves to candy, and weighs roughly 30 pounds.
“When we are done, there is no air space in there,” said LaRhonda Templeton, organizer for the event. “This has turned into a huge community effort.”
Nine years ago, Templeton began hosting a small group of volunteers at her home to help ship packages to people serving in the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That year, volunteers were able to put together 50 boxes.
Last year, the group was able to send 1,860 boxes overseas, to countries all across the Middle East.
Though Support Our Troops originally purchased items for the care packages themselves, now flyers are passed out to community members who are shopping at Walmart in hopes that some will return with items to put in the boxes.
“We have people coming out of the store with bags of things for multiple boxes,” said group member Jody Ives. “We even have kids coming after school to help pack up the boxes. People do this because they want to, not because they have to.”
A fundraiser is set Nov. 5 at the Van Ruiten winery.
A packing party to get packages ready for shipment will be held at the American Legion at 320 N. Washington St. on Nov. 18.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.