Care packages deliver appreciation to troops


POSTED: Monday, June 08, 2009

Saxon Nishioka has fond memories of receiving care packages from home while stationed in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

“;It really means a lot ... to have a little something from home,”; he said. “;When someone gets a box, everyone shares. It really makes you homesick, but you know the folks at home are looking out for you.”;

Nishioka and other members of the Rotary Club of West Pearl are trying to return the favor. They're soliciting donations for Operation Homefront, a project to help give today's servicemen the same experience of being close to home.

Spam, mochi crunch, Kona coffee, chocolate macadamia nuts and UH logo memorabilia are among the items being collected by Operation Homefront volunteers. The items are sorted for care packages that will be shipped to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

The program began in 2007, and “;aloha care packages”; are sent out twice a year, once in celebration of Independence Day and again during the holidays, according to the chapter president, Eva Laird Smith. Last year, deployed troops from Kuwait wrote their thanks in multiple languages, from mahalo and “;salamat”; to “;arigato,”; “;gracias”; and “;kamsahamnida,”; she said.

“;We plan on sending 500 packages this year,”; she said. “;We get calls from families. ... They want to make sure the boys are fed,”; she said. “;We try to be as fair and balanced as we can with a broad spectrum of representation with Army, Marines and National Guard.”;

Monetary donations are also accepted. “;It costs more than $3,000 just to do the mail-out,”; Smith explained, noting that some boxes might be shipped via cargo planes this time around.



» Donations can be dropped off at Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange and Lex Brodie's locations in Honolulu and Pearlridge through Friday.

» Monetary gifts are accepted online at the Web site, or checks may be mailed to Oahu Veterans Center, 1298 Kukila St., Honolulu 96818.

» To register a service member or a unit to receive a care package, call 469-7427 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Packages will be shipped on Saturday.