As many of us are just now thinking about what we're going to do next week for Thanksgiving, a local group of volunteers has been thinking about making the holidays a special time for our military personnel deployed overseas for the last several months-- and then some.
Pass Area Supporting Soldiers, or PASS, has been gathering supplies since October for a large shipment that will benefit some 225 soldiers, mostly who will be in Afghanistan come Christmastime.
With donation drop-offs located throughout Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa and Hemet, they've been looking for things like baby wipes, foot powder, snacks and toiletries to send to our military members who won't be able to be with their families during this emotional time of year.
Though PASS takes donations all year long and averages three send-offs a year, this holiday event is the most important, organizers say.
“This is the most important packing of the year, because this is when people are away from their friends and family,” said Sandy Bleier, who handles marketing for the non-profit group. “There’s an emotional thing going on at Christmastime when they’re away from their families, so we try to send as much as we can.”
On Wednesday, the group's latest collection effort will net about 100 boxes of supplies to be mailed overseas, Bleier told Banning-Beaumont Patch.
They plan on sending 48 boxes to 24 military members located throughout the world-- those names having come from a Banning woman whose son is among the deployed and helped gather the names, according to Bleier.
In addition to those 24 people, PASS will be sending boxes to 221 Army soldiers, all stationed in Afghanistan. That group, Bleier says, is a combat group “that backs up the other groups” and usually moves around every four to six weeks, so PASS is happy to finally have them in a location in which they'll be able to accept the packages, she said.
Bleier says that the group will be assembling packages on Wednesday, but they are still accepting donations for this shipment through Wednesday morning. Those can be dropped off at the Banning Community Center at 789 N. San Gorgonio Ave.
Some things still needed include:
- playing cards
- disposable razors
- men's magazines (things that deal with cars, fitness, sports, etc.)
- AA batteries
- beef jerky
- small toiltries (like things from hotels)
- paperback books
The organization also accepts cash donations to help pay for postage-- to send out these 100 boxes, it will cost $1,295, according to Bleier.
If you'd like more information about helping out or to submit names for future mailings, contact Sandy Bleier at 951-880-7085 or via email at email@example.com.