Story by Lindsey Chester, photo courtesy of Shoeboxes for Military Spouses.
Cary, NC – Shoeboxes for Military Spouses, is an organization that focuses on the loved ones left at home when members of the military are deployed overseas. This year they are collecting shoeboxes filled with small gifts from Nov 25- Dec 17 at many area locations int he Triangle.
The organization recently changed names from Mission Heart Hug (reported here) to the more direct Shoeboxes for Military Spouses). Co-founded by Dr Steven and Diane Rumley in 2010, they are a registered 501 (c)3 organization. The goal is to assemble, collect and distribute shoeboxes filled with gifts that are pampering and encouraging in nature to every wife or husband whose spouse is active duty.
The goal for this Holiday season is 1000 boxes. Last year the group collected 250 boxes in December that were distributed at Fort Bragg and Seymore Johnson Airforce Base. An additional collection was made in May when another 250 boxes were collected.
Currently, there are over 1 million active duty armed forces in the United States military, and approximately 400,000 serving on foreign soil. Support Military Spouses partners with the military to distribute shoebox gifts to spouses, most of whom are wives with children.
Heather, whose husband is deployed had this to say about the gift she received last year:
“The leader of our Family Readiness Group (FRG) gave us a shoebox gift before we said “goodbye” for the evening. When I got home and opened it up I found all kinds of neat goodies and a very nice letter written to thank me and my family. It was a “thank you for your service” letter, and the box was especially made for me, the spouse. … So many times the families get kind of forgotten while the “real” hero is deployed. Thank you very much for your thoughts, prayers, and gifts. They really make a difference.”
How to Help
Supporters of the cause can participate by preparing a shoebox with appropriate gifts, along with a $7.50 donation or more per box to help cover shipping and other project costs, and dropping them off at participating locations between Nov. 25 and Dec. 17.
This year, the program has been expanded to include drop-off sites in Apex, Cary, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Selma, Holly Springs, Lumberton, Sanford, Spring Lake, Hope Mills, Angier, Snow Hill, Kinston and Wallace. For a list of specific collections sites, visit www.supportmilitaryspouses.org/get-involved/pack-a-shoebox-send-a-heart-hug/collection-sites/.
Locations in Cary
Cary Towne Center Mall
Cary, NC 27511
NOTE: Customers who drop off a shoebox at this Cary Chick Fil A will be given a free Chick Fil A chicken sandwich!
Locations in Apex
Potter’s Hand Bible Church
3468 Apex Peakway,
Apex, NC 27502.
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 9-3
Thursday 9-12 (noon)
Suggested gifts for military wives include a pocket-sized Bible, book of inspiration, lip gloss/balm, bath lotions/gel, body spray, note pads, journal, fragrance candles, scarf, jewelry, etc. Suggested gifts for military husbands include a pocket-sized Bible, book of inspiration, sports magazine, non-breakable mug, nail clippers, cookbook for grilling, deck of cards, gum, hard candy, note pads, pens, etc.
Monetary donations can be made online through a secure PayPal account at www.supportmilitaryspouses.org.
Theresa, a military spouse whose husband is at the end of a deployment, wrote: “Our soldiers go through so much and so many organizations think of them, but this is the first one that I’ve found that actively supports the spouses… Thank you to all of you, for your generosity of spirit, generosity of time and dedication to support those that are in direct line of supporting the soldiers and sacrificing right along with them.”
Pamela, another military spouse, said, “Thank you for what you do. The shoeboxes are a wonderful change in our lifestyle as military spouses. We spend many hours making sure our soldiers are taken care of and forget to take a minute for ourselves. These gifts are a wonderful reminder that we need to take care of us in order to take care of our soldiers and families.”
Shoeboxes for Military Spouses acknowledges the support of its sponsors: Fayetteville/Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, Chick-fil-A and Penske Truck Rental.
About Support Military Spouses
Support Military Spouses’ goal is to recognize and applaud the undaunted courage of military wives and husbands as they shoulder the responsibility of family life, care for wounded warriors and honor the memory of our nation’s fallen heroes. We do this through programs that show appreciation for and reaffirm the sacrifice, patriotism and selflessness of all military spouses. For comments or questions, call 919-274-7344 or email Friends@SupportMilitarySpouses.org.