Capital Region

Local Blue Star Mothers in need of items for troop care packages

Mothers pack boxes at Colonie Center Mall for Capital Region Blue Star Mothers. 
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Mothers pack boxes at Colonie Center Mall for Capital Region Blue Star Mothers. 

CAPITAL REGION — The leader of Blue Star Mothers of America‘s Capital Region chapter wants to dispel the notion that there are few deployed U.S. troops.

Donna Abare, president of the local organization of mothers who send care packages to active and inactive military, said, “Every once in a while, when I’m talking to somebody about this, they’ll say, ‘we don’t have any troops deployed.’ ”

“I have to take a step back and say, ‘let me educate you. That’s not true.’ Yes, we drew down out of say, Afghanistan. But you do realize that there’s other areas in the Middle East that we have thousands of our troops over there, and around the world.”

Abare is calling attention to the local chapter’s need for donated items.

The chapter, which has about 65 members, has a dedicated group of mothers of military troops who find solidarity in sending the care packages – called “Freedom Boxes” – to random soldiers.

Blue Star Mothers of America’s Capital Region chapter has been another casualty of the impact of the pandemic, at least with respect to its ability to collect items, Abare said.

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The pandemic has limited its ability to hold donation drives, and this resulted in the organization mailing 221 Freedom Boxes to active military in December, Abare said.

The chapter normally sends out 500 boxes during the holidays.

Nevertheless, that latest sendoff depleted its complement of supplies, and it has a request to send out another 65 to 75 Freedom Boxes, Abare said.

The organization collects items and mails the boxes throughout the year without paid staff or permanent quarters, she said. It uses available space such as American Legions or temporary office space to prepare boxes.

The organization also sends letters of encouragement to troops; helps wounded service people, volunteers in VA hospitals, and works with veterans.

While its donation drives have been limited, other organizations, including Gold Star Mothers – an organization in support of the families of service members who are killed in action or dies in service, have been supportive of Blue Star Mothers’ mission, Abare said.

The Capital Region chapter stuffs each box with about $30 worth of items, and it costs about $13 in postage per box.

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The local chapter, which was chartered in 2007, has had various events in the region, including laying wreaths on deceased veterans headstones at Saratoga National Cemetery.

The national chapter, which is chartered by Congress, formed in 1942, following World War II, when a newspaper in Flint, Michigan advertised a meeting for mothers of servicemen. Hundreds of mothers attended.

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One of the benefits of the organization, said Abare, whose son Andrew Vickery, retired from the Army after sustaining a leg injury while serving, is the support system it yields mothers, fathers and family of active military.

The families are “scared to death” during times when they don’t know their son or daughter’s whereabouts while in service, she said.

Monetary donations to support Freedom Boxes can always be mailed to: Capital Region NY2 BSM, PO Box 243, Delmar, NY 12054.

Those wanting to donate items can email: [email protected]. Arrangements will be made to pick up or drop off donations.

The list of needed items include insect repellent wipes, gum-hard candy, Chapstick, toothbrushes, toothpaste, macaroni and cheese, individual-sized tissues, hand and feet warmers, hand sanitizer, sunflower seeds, individual-sized powered drink mix, Pop Tarts, crossword puzzles, fruit snacks, pouch tuna, individual-sized Pringles, black socks, Q-tips, beef jerky (no pork), Rice Krispy Treats, small bottles of shampoo, trial-sized body wash, deodorant, razors, microwave popcorn, instant oatmeal, packages of fruit snacks, crackers, granola bars, and baby wipes.

Details for becoming a member of the nonprofit organization, for $30 a year, are on its website https://capitalregion2bsm.org/join.htm

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

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