NASHUA — Volunteers have been busy preparing care packages for troops still stationed overseas, reminding people here at home that not all of the troops have returned to American soil.
“I support all of our military members that are over there now, but I do wish they would all come home safely and quickly,” said Kathy Peterson of Nashua, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary.
She joined about 50 volunteers on Thursday and Friday at the National Guard Armory to help pack the boxes, which are intended to arrive in Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of the month.
Included in each package is a personal letter of support from children at New Hampshire churches, schools and other organizations. About 1,200 care packages were being stuffed with socks, books, toothpaste, snacks and more.
“My dad was a veteran, and so were three of his brothers,” said Peterson. “I am sure these young men and women are very thankful to be receiving something nice from home.”
Dozens of cases of ramen noodles, beef jerky and candy were included in the boxes, along with Bibles, powdered drink mixes and granola bars.
“This is our seventh year doing this, and I'm always pleasantly surprised by all of the donations and help,” said Paul Moore, co-founder of MooreMart, a nonprofit organization that spearheaded the care package project.
Typically, about 1,800 packages are sent to New Hampshire troops every 10 weeks through the MooreMart initiative. To date, more than 45,000 MooreMart care packages and more than four tons of relief supplies have been shipped to the Middle East to help schools, clinics and orphanages.
“I am very impressed with this process,” said volunteer John Hall of Gilford. “This is an astounding organization, and it is a wonderful cause.”
Hall's son, Pete Freeman, is stationed in Afghanistan. It is difficult having his 22-year-old son so far away from home, but Hall said it helps knowing that so many people are supporting the troops in efforts like those undertaken by MooreMart.
Several veterans also took part in helping to pack hundreds of care packages this week. Lenny Pitts, a Vietnam veteran from Pelham, said he did not have an opportunity to receive packages from home during the Vietnam War.
“In the Vietnam era, the only thing we got were cross words when we got home,” said Pitts. “This is why I am here today helping.”
Although most New Hampshire troops have returned home, Moore said his organization continues to receive requests from various units being deployed throughout the nation. The boxes are personally prepared and custom packed for individual requests, he said. It takes dozens of volunteers to help coordinate all of the care packages, according to Moore, who said he is grateful for every hand that is available to help and donate.
Financial donations can be send to: MooreMart, P.O. Box 1604, Nashua 03061. To add the names of soldiers to Mooremart's list, send their APO address, date of departure from the Middle East and his/her requested items or specific needs to Mooremart.