Group Sends Care to Oregon Troops

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2007 - Servicemembers with ties to central Oregon can rely on "Caring for Troops" for a touch of home when they're deployed, the organization's president said.

Caring for Troops is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting the ways Americans are supporting the nation's servicemembers.

Officially started in September 2004, the group's main mission is to send care packages to troops with ties to central Oregon, Byron Ames, the group's president, said.

"I think we have 23 people on our list right now," he said, adding that the numbers have been over 200 and as low as 15, depending on deployments. "I know that there's a lot more that are connected to central Oregon that we could be supporting."

Since the Bend, Ore.-based group's official beginning, it has shipped about 3,000 packages of comfort, food -- including donated Girl Scout cookies -- and entertainment items to troops serving overseas, Ames said.

Though the group's main mode of support for the troops is care packages, the board of directors will consider requests outside its primary focus, Ames said. He cited a recent example of a new husband and wife expecting their first child and he was preparing to deploy.

The baby was due right before the husband was to deploy and the doctor was willing to induce labor, but the couple couldn't afford the travel costs for the servicemember to come home.

"That was a special circumstance where we flew (him) back here ... then he was able to come home and witness the birth of his child before having to head over to Iraq," Ames said.

For the families of the servicemembers Caring for Troops helps, a list of free and discounted offers from area retailers is available on the group's Web site. This includes discounts on everything from cab fare, oil changes and meals, to help with heating and electric charges. Local Boy and Girl Scouts are doing volunteer work and offering babysitting services.

Ames said that while the group's America Supports You membership has helped make its name visible, it has also helped the group help others. Such was the case when Seattle-based Jones Soda Co. called in search of names to send about 20,000 sodas to, Ames said.

"They just needed a larger mailing list," he said. "We weren't directly a part of it, but we helped facilitate it and get them the contacts through ASY."

[Web Version:]