Amy Cunningham
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Soldiers stationed overseas may feel lonely and isolated from what is going on back in the United States, but thanks to the Operation Home Comfort organization, home is just a postal delivery away.
Operation Home Comfort matches those soldiers with volunteers who promise to provide their adopted service member with “home comfort” packages at least once per month for the duration of their deployment.
One local businessman and his family decided to get involved by adopting a soldier after hearing about the program from a friend, now he is hoping to spread the word.
“This is a program to keep in touch with a soldier who is stationed overseas so that they can feel some of the comforts of home, this is a way for them to stay in touch with people in America and to let them know that their efforts are supported,” Dave Miller said.
For the past three months Dave Miller, owner of Little People’s Place in Gardner, along with his wife and two daughters, ages eight and 11, have been connected with a soldier stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Typically the Millers have sent suggested items from the Operation Home Comfort Web site. These include batteries, salty snacks, hard candies, ChapStick, deodorant, homemade cookies, and special treats like gum and magazines.  Miller said one item that has been well-received is individual drink mixes such as Crystal Light, which helps mask the flavor of water in foreign countries.  He also said that books and items that can be used and reused by multiple soldiers are very popular.
Miller said that his family has embraced the project, baking cookies and writing introductory letters.  Last month, in an effort to remind their soldier of how beautiful fall can be in the U.S., his daughter included some colorful foliage in the package.
“We put letters in the box to tell him about us, our family, some of the things going on back home,” Miller explained, “My daughters include pictures and stories about school. We tell him things that are going on with sports, general things about the seasons.  My daughter sent him fall leaves; if you’re in a hot climate the seasons don’t change so she sent a bag of leaves to remind him of home.”
The cost of shipping items to a service member is minimal, according to Miller, who uses the post office’s Flat Rate APO/FPO rate of $11.95 per box.
Regardless of cost and time, Miller says Operation Home Comfort is a simple way to say thank you to a soldier.
“We’ve got a lot of guys and gals working hard for  us overseas,” Miller said.  “These are little things that can make their lives a lot easier and let them know we’re grateful.”
For information about Operation Home Comfort go to: www.operationhomecomfort.org