Slowed by the recession, a recent back surgery and the heat, a Chandler woman said she badly needs the public's help in collecting donations and mailing care packages to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the last six years, military mom Faith Steele of Chandler has led the East Valley Military Support Group in collecting donations and mailing an average of 100 boxes a month of necessities to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But for the last month, the nonprofit group's mailings have been down to zero.
Slowed by the recession, a recent back surgery and the heat - which has prevented her from placing a table outside a local big-box store to solicit donations and sell "Support Our Troops" T-shirts - Steele said she badly needs the public's help.
The Vietnam veterans who come to her house and help package the boxes and deliver them to the post office are raring to go - all they need are donations to start rolling in again, she said.
The volunteers mail out items, such as toilet paper, baby wipes, toothpaste, canned stew and spaghetti, peanut butter, and breakfast snacks. The boxes are mostly mailed to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and to hospitals in Iraq and Germany.
"I am completely out, and we have been completely out for a month," Steele said. "I send anything I get. When we start receiving donations again, we'll start sending some boxes out."
Steele's home is filled with plaques and certificates from servicemen from all over the United States expressing their appreciation for the work she has done, and her garage resembles a warehouse where the boxes are packaged before they get mailed.
Steele said that snacks are also needed because some of the servicemen and servicewomen work later shifts, and places to eat or purchase food are closed when they are off duty.
All five of Steele's sons were enlisted in the military at one time or another, and her husband, the late Joseph Steele, served with the Army in Vietnam, she said.
Any cash donations East Valley Military Support Group receives are set aside to pay for the postage on the boxes, which is $10.95, and to further raise money for items to be mailed.
In addition to the "Support Our Troops" T-shirt, she also sells a "We're Watching You" T-shirt.
"It means a lot to the troops," Steele said. "Every little bit helps."