Support the Troops mission: Getting supplies to service people overseas

Support the Troops is collecting items for care packages for service members.

On this particular morning, it's especially sweet at Support the Troops in Wesley Chapel.

Almost 3 tons of candy collected by Dollar General customers and workers are coming in.
All of this candy will eventually go into a big brown box with other items – not big, not expensive, but needed -- and shipped to military men and women thousands of miles from home.

"Slim Jims, yah, those Slim Jims are gonna go fast!" says one volunteers. 

Off to the side watching are two Marines. They know the power of a Support the Troops care package. 

Staff Sgt. Cheops Dieujuste says, "It's like a chocolate box. You open it, you don't know it's coming because you didn't really request the box."

Capt. Seth Dellinger got several boxes when he was in Afghanistan.

"It's a big deal when they come in. 'Hey guys we got boxes,'and it's it sounds cliché to say, it's like Christmas but it kind of is.

Dellinger can say that without sounding cliché. He flies Hueys – utility helicopters. His call sign or code name just happens to be "Santa."

"I've had the pleasure of bringing some of these to people and putting smiles on their faces as well," he said. 

Mark Van Trees, director of Support the Troops, walked through the warehouse, pointing out all of the supplies we at home take for granted. 
--
"There's not a Walgreens in Afghanistan or Yemen or Syria or Iraq, so if it wasn't for the stuff that we are providing they do without. 

Each 40-pound box has enough for 20 service members. It gets shipped to a specific soldier who then shares.

What's in each box?

"Socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, cookies," said Dieujuste. "And then sometimes you get a note in the box from a little kid."

One handmade card with a flag on it reads, "We very much appreciate it and all that you do. From Eric." 

"And that's what helps us just wake up every day, work hard and stay safe out there," said Dieujuste.

WTSP's 10 for the Troops drive collects items for Support the Troops. Why is it so critical for the effort?

"We survive on donations," saiys Van Trees. "We survive on the generosity of the greatest country on the face of this earth. We're a country that gives and gives and gives some more."

"You know you support us and we go out there and we do our job," says Dieujuste.

Since 2006, Support the Troops has shipped more than 610 tons of supplies, helping thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. 

You can help continue this mission, by donating items. You can drop off supplies at the 10News studios located at 11450 Gandy Boulevard, St. Petersburg.

You can contribute financially. Each one of those boxes costs $56.13 to ship.

© 2018 WTSP-TV


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