When a man or woman deploys to serve in the armed forces, he or she isn’t the only one making a sacrifice. People often forget that service members’ families make sacrifices, too. Bradenton-based nonprofit organization Manasota Operation Troop Support exists with this idea at the core of its mission; to fulfill the needs of deployed local soldiers and their families in Sarasota and Manatee counties by mailing the troops care packages and assisting their loved ones at home.
“When a warrior goes to war, it’s also his or her family,” says MOTS Director Linda Craig. “If you’re serving and your wife falls and breaks her leg at home, you wish you could be there to help, but you can’t. There are personal needs that you don’t plan for, but they’re needs we like to meet because these are our people.”
Made possible by collecting donations, raising funds and writing small grants, one of the nonprofit’s most prominent efforts includes packing and mailing customized care packages to deployed local troops. The packages include items such as snacks, clothing, photos and other keepsakes to help remind the troops of home.
“(The troops) need that connection,” says Craig. “They need to know they’re not forgotten — that they’re remembered. It’s only a fraction of our population that’s serving, so that the rest of us can walk about and do whatever it is we want to do. They allow us to do that.”
Local veteran Anthony Driscoll remembers the positive impact that receiving boxes of candy, magazines and photos had on him while he was deployed in Afghanistan in 2008.
“It made wherever I was staying feel a little bit more like home,” he says. “And, it relieves a lot of the stress, knowing there’s someone there to help pick up some of the slack that I’m not there for. And when vets come back home, MOTS is kind of like a guiding light to help point you in the right direction to get the help or information you need. It lets you know you’re not alone.”
Craig says that with the holidays approaching, she hopes to continue being able to provide families with Christmas gifts, and MOTS will soon launch a Gulf Coast Gives project to help fund it.
“We want to help these kids forget for a little bit that their mom or dad isn’t home,” she says. “And, the community has shown that when given the opportunity to know what these people need, they’re willing to answer the call.”
BY THE NUMBERS
50 — Number of troops the organization serves monthly
380 — Total number of troops and family members served
$14.85 — Shipping cost for care packages
To learn more about MOTS current project on Gulf Coast Gives, click here.