Yellow-ribbon reminder of those who serve
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org July 10, 2012 6:26PM
Crest Hill resident Mary Ann Fajfar, a volunteer for Operation Care Package, ties a yellow ribbon on a tree in her neighborhood to encourage bringing U.S. troops home along Lynwood St. Monday, July 9, 2012, in Crest Hill. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
How to help
Operation Care Package was formed in 2003 by Pat Curran, Debbie Smothers and Debbie Durawa to support soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen through care packages and letters of encouragement.
There are many ways to support the organization, such as:
Sponsoring a package for $25
Making a monetary donation
Sewing and donating a goodie bag or a scarf
Donating handmade greeting cards or supplies for cards
Providing items for raffles and silent auctions
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:13AM
The trees in Mary Ann Fajfar’s Crest Hill neighborhood were adorned with yellow ribbons Monday, a symbol of solidarity with service men and women overseas she hopes to see spread through other neighborhoods.
Fajfar and her friend Donna Voight took on the project as a way of recognizing and supporting the work of the U.S. armed forces.
“We want our servicemen and women home,” said Fajfar, who also volunteers her time with Operation Care Package, a local nonprofit group that mails hundreds of packages to military members overseas each month.
“It’s a heartfelt thing. Our servicemen and women don’t get enough credit, they really don’t,” Fajfar said.
Debbie Smothers, one of the founders of Operation Care Package, began tying yellow ribbons around trees in Joliet at the end of June.
“We don’t want to forget our troops, so anything as a reminder, I think is a good thing,” Smothers said.
The ribbons also are for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 26, of Idaho, who was captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He is the country’s only known living prisoner of war, Smothers said.
“The ribbons are for him and for our troops, until they all come home,” she said.
Volunteers with Operation Care Package get together once a week to pack more than 100 boxes to send to members of the military serving overseas, mailing about 150 packages each week.
The winter holiday season is the group’s busiest. During the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteers work daily to pack boxes, sometimes packing up to 100 boxes an hour, Fajfar said.
‘They’re worth it’
The letters they receive from package recipients are more than enough thanks for the work, she said.
Some have written to say they not only appreciated the package of travel-size toiletries and other goodies, but that the gift had turned a bad day around.
“It’s a deep personal satisfaction to do this,” Fajfar said.
The organization can always use more volunteers and donations of both items and time.
The group’s website, operationcarepackages.org, lists a number of options for people interested in joining the cause.
“They’re worth it,” Smothers said. “A lot of them are over there for their fifth deployment. It’s the least we can do, send a few care packages.”
The organization is also hosting a block party from 3 to 11 p.m. Aug. 11 in the 600 block of Wilcox Street in Joliet. Tickets go on sale July 25 for a spaghetti dinner benefitting the group, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Cantigny Veterans of Foreign Wars in Joliet.
A full list of upcoming events is available on the group’s website.