ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Whether you’re studying hundreds of miles away or serving on the front lines thousands of miles away, there’s nothing like the feeling of getting a care package, a box filled with necessities from home.
Cadets in Robertsdale High School’s Junior ROTC program, which is comprised of students from RHS and Elberta High School, have gone the extra mile while earning “Community Service” points, sending care packages through Operation Shoebox.
“The idea was presented by one of the cadets,” said Commander Frank Starr, senior Naval Science instructor at RHS, “so I gave it to (Petty Officer Edward Theodoro) and he took it and ran with it.”
Items used to stock the boxes, which can range anywhere from toiletries to snack food items, to toys and school supplies that soldiers hand out to locals, have all been donated by the cadets themselves, Theodoro said. For every three boxes shipped, the students earn Community Service points, which is counted as part of the ROTC’s ranking at the end of the year.
“We receive a notice from a soldier, requesting items for their unit and all we have to do is fill that request,” Theodoro said. The soldier can also request pen pals, in which case Theodoro has stock postcards that the cadets can fill out. “They can say whatever they want, within reason.”
Shipping boxes are provided free of charge by the U.S. Postal service. Once a request is made, boxes are packed, weighed and shipped from the local Post Office in Robertsdale.
“For a small post office, they have done a fantastic job,” he said. “My hat’s off to them.”
There is a $15 per box charge to ship the boxes, Theodoro said, which has so far been paid entirely by money raised by the program.
“We have gotten a $400 donation from AmVets in Elberta ($200 from the AmVet organization and $200 from the AmVet Ladies Auxiliary),” he said, “so if anyone wants to give us a donation, we will take it.”
You can send checks payable to the Robertsdale High School JROTC, c/o Robertsdale High School to P.O. Box 69, Robertsdale, AL 36567. If you put your email address on the check, Theodoro said, he will email a receipt which can be counted as a tax-deductible donation.
So far, the ROTC group has sent 170 boxes out to the troops, with another 60 ready to be shipped to Adrienne Bingham with the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan. They have also begun to fill requests of another 75 boxes.
“We’ll keep going as long as we can fill boxes,” Theodoro said.