PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Service members from the Presidio of Monterey stepped forward along with other volunteers from local communities to organize care packages for Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen stationed overseas as part of Operation Care and Comfort's Monterey chapter at the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula Aug. 23.

What started as a few women in someone's living room has grown to 40-plus people from all over the Central Coast sorting, stuffing and wrapping care packages for U.S. military personnel away from home, said Joan Bizzozero, founder of Operation Yellow Ribbon-Monterey, the predecessor to Operation Care and Comfort-Monterey.

Bizzozero said the Monterey chapter currently ships about 500 packages two to three times a year to troops.

She said that each shipment they send is a "morale boost to the service members" and that it still "gets her every time."

"Usually I get teary and I am very grateful," she said explaining how she feels about the tremendous community support. "A lot of help. A lot of people. … [A lot of] support."

She said that Operation Care and Comfort, which is an all volunteer nonprofit organization that was founded in 2003, is based in San Jose and does more than care packages.

The San Jose organization also runs a programs called "Tickets for Troops" which, annually, provides more than 25,000 free tickets for troops, veterans and their families to sports and entertainment events, and runs "adopt a military family," which provides individuals, organizations and companies the ability to anonymously adopt hundreds of military families and veterans throughout the United States at Christmas and throughout the year.

Presidio of Monterey Garrison Commander Col. Joel J. Clark said that local service members provide thousands of hours to the communities each year. "This is just one of the many things we do. We get involved as much as we can, time permitting, and this is a part of the volunteer hours that service members from the Presidio give back to the community."

Airman 1st Class Courtney Jefferson said this program is one that "hits very close to home because, having just come from basic training, I know how important it is to be shown that someone cares about you when you have very little. We really appreciate the organization and the people who are making this possible."

Airman 1st Class Bryan Gomez said that working with Operation Care and Comfort "really shows me as an airman how much our community honestly thinks about us. Our military does great things each and every day, and seeing motivation like this in a new friendly environment really is the fuel that keeps us going."

He said that the military has "really shown me how to appreciate the little things in life, and that is why this organization is something I feel strongly about and our troops really appreciate."

Bizzozero said that since 2003, Operation Care and Comfort has shipped about 450 tons of care packages to deployed troops and 300 tons of items for "Adopt a Military Family" to bases across the country.

Page last updated Mon September 10th, 2012 at 00:00