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Corporate donations go to soldiers' families

Corporate donations go to soldiers' families

Source: Army Link News Release

At least two companies are aiding deployed troops by honoring the sacrifices of their family members with donations of gifts and volunteer hours.

Mary Kay Cosmetics has donated items such as sun block and lip balm to troops through their families and Home Depot has pledged household repairs.

Home Depot pledged $1 million and 1 million volunteer hours to make general household repairs for the loved ones of deployed troops. "Project Homefront" was first organized to assist the family members of the more than 1,700 Home Depot employees that have been mobilized, but since has been extended to include family members of all deployed active-duty military.

Extending the project was made possible officials said by a partnership that includes "Rebuilding Together," a volunteer organization that restores low-income houses and communities, and USA Freedom Corps, a White House council that's working to get more Americans to volunteer.

Not only is Home Depot willing to help with general home repairs, the company is adorning homes with military memorabilia. Blue Star Service Banners, which were designed in 1917 to be displayed by families who have loved ones serving in the Armed Forces, will be given to each of Home Depot's 1,7000 mobilized employees.

Each blue star represents one family member serving in the Armed Forces. A banner can have up to five stars, signifying that five members of that family are currently on active duty.

For more information on Project Homefront and Blue Star Service Banners, visit

Mary Kay Cosmetics could not send tubes of shaving cream, sun block, lip balm and lotion to the troops in Kuwait because of mailing restrictions to safeguard against terrorist threats. However, the company shipped 60,000 items to family members at the 3rd Infantry Division rear at Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Georgian infantrymen are in one of the units currently occupying Baghdad, and they have captured thousands of enemy forces, including key members in the Special Republican Guard.

"How could we do anything less for these troops?" said Michael Lunceford, Mary Kay's senior vice president for government relations. "I'm a sponge for news, and I could see that the 3rd ID was going to be the tip of the spear going into Baghdad."

This is the second Gulf War were Mary Kay has made contributions. In 1991 50,000 tubes of sunscreen were delivered to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and then later transported to the Persian Gulf, Lunceford said.

On April 3 donations rolled onto Fort Stewart in an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer, which brought on "shock and awe" for some onlookers.

"I was so impressed with Mary Kay's desire to want to do something for the families that have been left behind," said Susan Wilder, the mobilization, deployment manager for the local Army Community Service. "As a military spouse, I know that sometimes we're forgotten, and this donation was so sweet."

The gifts will be given to families in the form of goodie bags, Wilder said. Spouses will most likely share the gifts by sending some items to the front lines, she said.

Only family members and close friends of deployed troops are able to send mail to Kuwait or surrounding countries, and programs that allowed the general public to send mail addressed to "Any Service Member" were cancelled more than a year ago after anthrax hit the mail.

However, an Army contractor who wanted to help end boredom for soldiers in Kuwait was able to get temporary assistance from the American Red Cross.

James Kratzer, a contractor at the Army Research Laboratory in White Sands Missile Range, N.M., enlisted the help of some of his colleagues and started "Paperbacks for Troops."

"It became obvious they were bored at times," said Kratzer. "The soldiers spent most of their time cleaning their rifles or playing cards, but there was nothing for them to read. That planted a seed in my mind."

After collecting 3,500 books, the Red Cross delivered half of them to Camp Doha, Kuwait. The rest of the shipment has been curtailed to allow existing military support carriers to focus on combat-specific shipments, said an official from the American Red Cross.

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