The Brightside: Operation We Care
WICOMICO Co., Md. – A care package has a funny way of picking us up in hard times, and in times like these, it’s safe to say we could all use one.
For years, Operation We Care, a non-profit organization founded by Jeff and Diana Merritt, has been sending care packages out to those who need them most: our troops overseas.
Jeff Merritt said, “I told my wife back in October of 2007 that I thought sending care package to the troops for Christmas that year would be a great project.”
A few years ago, they expanded their efforts to include local first responders.
Merritt said, “A lot of the first responders are either veterans or members of the military if they’re in the reserves, so we thought it was a pretty good tie in when we were able to do that.”
The idea to start this non-profit can be traced back to September 11th, 2001. Jeff Merritt was at the Pentagon that day working on the grounds as a private contractor.
“I felt a little bit of I guess you call it an empty spot after all that and I just came up with the idea, and I like to say for once it worked,” he said.
Over the years Jeff and Diana Merritt, with the help of volunteers, have helped deliver countless packages, they’ve provided meals to first responders, they’ve even sent girl scout cookies to wounded warriors. During the pandemic, their efforts have narrowed in on first responders.
Merritt said, “We wanted to show support for the great community work they’re doing during these challenging times.”
Typically, Operation We Care would pack and ship 2,000 packages in a year. This year, they surpassed that number in just a few months.
Merritt said, “So we packed about 3,000 first responders first responder care packages over about 2 and a half months and got them distributed out all over the region.”
Merritt admits, it’s been challenging keeping up with these efforts during a global pandemic.
“Just had to figure out how to do stuff with less people we cant gather 250 people at a packing event anymore for the time being. So we just get smaller groups of people and pack smaller numbers of boxes and do that a little bit more often,” he explained.
Despite the challenges though, Merritt says they have no plans on slowing down any time soon.
“We couldn’t stop this now if we tried,” he said.
This year Operation We Care was awarded the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for their efforts. They were also awarded with the Richard A Henson for Non Profit Excellence award from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.