The Rockbridge Care-Box Project provides aid and support to the deployed members of the Reserve, National Guard and active United States Armed Forces, as well as to their families. Customized care-boxes are sent to deployed service men and women in the United States Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Also, based on available information, care-boxes may be sent to deployed members of the U.S. Coast Guard and to allied forces serving with the United States forces. Each box is prepared for named service members and is sent to those service members. Letters and cards expressing appreciation for the member's sacrifices and prayers for his or her safe return home may also be sent with the care-box. The mission of the organization is not only to provide aid to service members during the actual deployment, but also upon their return from deployment. In addition, such aid extends to the families of service members. Any aid and support that the organization provides to service members and their families will be at no cost to the recipients.
Collette Barry-Rec started the Care-Box Project after reading a letter to the editor in the local newspaper where a local woman thanked a Rockbridge County High School government class for sending her son letters, pictures and care packages while he was deployed in Baghdad. She was so moved by that letter that she called the woman and said, "You don’t know me, but I want to be helpful,” and the rest is history. The woman's son had attended Rockbridge County High School and graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 2002. He became the first recipient of the Care-Box Project's care packages and letters when he was deployed in 2004.
Since that first box, more than 2,850 boxes have been sent to local soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq through the program. It’s 100 percent word of mouth that identifies deployed service members. As soon as the names of local soldiers deployed overseas are heard, their mailing information is tracked down and care packages and letters start to go out. Packages contain a variety of contents and special requests never go unfilled. The amount contained in each box is plentiful, thereby encouraging sharing with fellow soldiers.
Sometimes soldiers will write requesting boxes be sent to other men and women in their units who don’t get mail or support of any kind. Care-Box ends up not only supporting that person, but if they learn that someone isn’t getting mail or anything at all, they end up supporting a whole or part of a unit.
The Care-Box Project is not just about the boxes. We have a "Lend-a-Hand to our Local Veterans" program where we identify those retired veterans who could use a hand with mowing, cleaning, tree removal, etc. We also have a program to recognize and honor the children of those deployed by purchasing special gifts that might help them in school and that they would enjoy.
We also work alongside the Military Appreciation Quilters who have made over 200 THANK YOU quilts for our local military families.
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