CARLSBAD, CALIF. - Months before the holidays, residents of La Costa Glen wrapped nearly 2,200 Christmas and Hanukkah presents for America's troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the community's Care Packages From Home program. The holiday packages were shipped overseas starting in October with the final shipments sent in mid-December.
According to gift-wrapping event organizers and La Costa Glen residents Sandy Wiener and Richie Clyne, everything from gift-wrapped flashlights with batteries to warm gloves, sketch pads with colored pencils, make-up kits for the women, barber sets for the men, book lights, manicure sets and playing cards made it into the holiday packages this year. Every box also received two telephone cards which enabled troops to call home at Christmas time free of charge.
"This was our second year of wrapping and shipping packages for the holidays to our fighting men and women overseas," Wiener said. "Last year, we had so many residents turn out to help that we ran out of room. This year we held the gift-wrapping in our main recreation center. We were so pleased at the turnout, especially when you consider that our average age here at La Costa Glen is 82."
Now in its third year at La Costa Glen, Care Packages From Home was started by residents Les and Betty Tenney. Les, a veteran of World War II, survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines while a Japanese prisoner of war for three and a half years.
With the holiday gift-wrapping and shipping effort, the group marked its 5,000th package shipped to troops in the Middle East.
Wiener said that the troops in Afghanistan were the priority for the group this year because "there are no PXs over there, and our troops are in dire need of even the most basic supplies and hygiene products. The need in Afghanistan is so great and some of their stories are just heart-wrenching. We wanted to do everything we could to make their holidays a little brighter and let them know that there are many, many people here at home who care about them and want to do their part."
The Care Packages From Home program is a 501(c) (19) veterans non-profit organization operated year-round by La Costa Glen residents and friends. With every package costing $11.95 in shipping costs alone, funds are always needed. One hundred percent of the funds collected are used for the troops. Volunteers do all the work and there are no paid employees. In addition to the work of the residents, students from Santa Fe Christian High School participated in the care packages program last summer and raised enough funds to buy, package and ship 450 boxes that served more than 5,500 troops.
For more information about La Costa Glen's Care Packages From Home program, please visit www.carepackagesfromhome.org