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Military Care Support Drive is set to kick off

Military spouse takes pride adding comfort to deployments

Care packages collected at Maggie Connors’ office during last year’s drive, headed for JBLM troops overseas. Photo credit: Maggie Connors

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It was one of those cases when a caring, personal moment sparked a larger cause.

As a military spouse, Maggie Connors got to know first-hand how much a touching token of appreciation can mean to our deployed servicemembers. Returning from one of his overseas stints, Connors' husband related to her how much his outlook improved after receiving care packages from school children back home.

It wasn't just the typical candy and snacks from the states that boosted his morale. It was a simple greeting card, hand-lettered by a caring kid he didn't even know.

"My husband still has the cards that kids from across the country sent him," explained Connors, a local financial advisor who was inspired by her husband's experience to pay it forward in her own way.

Now in its fourth year, the Military Care Package Supply Drive she created is going strong. The event began Monday and runs through March 29. Donations can be dropped off at Connor's Edward Jones office in DuPont. For the second year, Connors will partner with the Spokane Edward Jones office of Joseph Carter, which is also accepting donations.

In addition to sending in or dropping off items (no cash donations are accepted), community members can actively participate beyond that, offered Connors.

"We have an event day, so if people want to come in and do day-of thank-you cards or help get things packaged, they can get involved," Connors explained, noting this year it will be held at her office Saturday, April 13.

"If there are teenagers or students who need volunteer hours, we are happy to sign off on it," said Connors, as long as it meets their school or organization's criteria.

After all the donation items have been collected, they are sorted and packaged for individual servicemembers to receive on the other side of the world. Every care package consists of at least 10 different items. Commonly included are small, individually wrapped items like protein bars, beef jerky, candy, and drink packets. Everything goes into one-gallon plastic bags, and the finishing touch for each is a personally written thank-you card carefully placed into each care package.

Connors says candy has always been a favorite, but pre-packaged coffee and iced-coffee mixes in packets are a sought-after commodity for servicemembers in certain international stations.

"A lot of the time -- depending on where they are stationed -- the water might not be that great," Connors explained, "so those (packets) have become really popular."

Full-sized bottles of beverages are prohibited, however. It must be a packet (think the Starbucks Via product). The same goes for toiletries, noted Connors. She said in some areas of deployment, shampoo, soap and other bathroom supplies can be hard to come by, which means they are also popular, but the donated versions must be travel-size packages. Perishable items and homemade food items are also prohibited.

The donations received at Connors' branch are combined with those from the Spokane office into a single shipment. Once delivered to the United Services Organization (USO), it is all sent overseas for distribution to Joint Base Lewis-McChord servicemembers on deployment.

"So, we'll meet up with them (Spokane office), finalize everything, and ship it," Connors said. "Our joint goal with them is to have 350 packages this year."

She said if people can't drop off donations, "We are happy to pick them up if they are not too far away." Connors clarified they are willing to travel within a 15-mile radius of their DuPont office.

Connors said she's heartened and gratified to see the community's commitment to helping our troops, and how it has grown over the past three years. Having gone through deployments as a spouse, she said, she knows how isolating that experience can be for servicemembers -- and how much it means to receive that package on the other end.

Fourth Annual Military Care Support Drive, through March 29, items should be dropped off at Edward Jones, 1100 Station Dr., Suite 241, DuPont, 253.912.4490,; or 605 E. Holland Ave., Ste. 216, Spokane, 509.468.2541

Package party, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 13, DuPont office,  anyone is welcome to help make cards and package items

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