Operation We Care celebrates 15th anniversary of sending packages wrapped in ‘care’ to soldiers worldwide


MARDELA SPRINGS, Md.- A standard 12×12 postal box becomes a package wrapped in love for deployed soldiers across the world thanks to Operation We Care.

Sunday, the non-profit hosted its annual packing party at Mardela Springs Vol. Fire Company.

The event brings the community out to help fill those boxes to capacity with everything from food, personal care items, and sweet messages. “Right before the holidays, it’s a good time for people to come together and we remember that we’re very fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world. We want to thank the men and women that allow us to do that,” Operation We Care Founder Jeff Merritt said.

This year was a special one, as it marked the 15th anniversary. Merritt says they’ve faced many bumps along the road, including the pandemic.
He adds that the secret behind making it to this milestone has been the overwhelming community support. “We’ve got support got support from people, businesses, and organizations. Just from everywhere because we try to do the good work that’s needed in our community,” Merritt said.

Volunteer Joshua Kelly was a part of the first group of soldiers who received these boxes while he was deployed in Iraq.

He tells us what’s in them aren’t just items, but a sense of connection to home. “Sometimes it’s the only way to keep them going. A year of deployment can feel like a very long time and this just helps you count down the days until you can reunite with family,” Kelly said.

It’s that impact on those brave men and women lives – that keep participants like Starr Purnell coming back year after year. “When you get the response, the smiles on faces of our veterans, and the support and appreciation for all that’s being done for them. We will continue to do for them as long we can,” Participant and American Legion Auxiliary Member Starr Purnell said.

A total of 718 boxes were packed Sunday.

Operation We Care was also presented with a certificate of recognition by the Maryland state Senate in honor of their 15th anniversary.

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