SOLVANG, Calif. - Every month for 15 years, volunteers in the Santa Ynez Valley show their support for U.S. troops deployed overseas by packing and sending them care packages.
This time of year the "We Support the Troops" organization steps up their efforts to let the men and women serving in remote locations around the world know that they are not forgotten during the holiday season.
A small army of volunteers gathered Wednesday morning at the Bethania Lutheran Church Hall in Solvang to prepare and ship up to 250 care packages to troopers by name overseas.
"I always thought that they had everything they needed because I did growing up in the military and to find out that they don't, it's great that Pat started this, so I'm happy to help," said volunteer Susie Snow.
Items included new socks, t-shirts, personal hygiene products, high protein snacks and energy drinks, instant coffee, books, magazines, DVD's, flashlights and batteries.
Everything packed and shipped is new, purchased with donations collected year round by We Support the Troops.
"We are sending to those at forward operating bases, not at big, well-stocked bases", said We Support the Troops founder Pat Sullivan. "Those that are out there are really by themselves."
There's also care packages for military dogs stationed alongside the troops.
The boxes are packed and taped up, loaded onto a truck and taken to the Post Office for shipment overseas.
Each care package is personally addressed to an individual trooper to ensure it reaches its destination.
Sullivan says she and her organization get the names of those deployed overseas that want a care package through email contacts.
"When I first started this in 2004, I used to meet the planes leaving from Vandenberg AFB and handed out the packages then, they just took them with them", Sullivan said. "I also included my email address, since then my email address has gone everywhere."
Sullivan says the volunteers and donations from the community keep the mission and tradition alive.
"We just hope to let our serving military members know, those that are out at the point of the spear, that they are not forgotten."
If you'd like to help the organization, visit their website at wesupportthetroops.org.