Press Club seeks items for U.S. troops overseas

The Del Mar College Press Club is teaming up with Coastal Bend Troop Support to send care packages to troops serving overseas.

At Coastal Bend Troop Support, a nonprofit charity based in Rockport, volunteers put together care packages full of basic needs like hygiene kits, foot care products, writing materials, candy, snacks and other things such as encouraging letters for troops. They send the packages to 120-150 individuals each month until their deployment ends. Normally, the packages are sent to combat zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. Since starting in 2005, the group has sent over 30,000 care packages.

Carla Reed, the founder of Coastal Bend Troop Support, started at her own home in 2005, gathering travel-sized items and snacks and sending them to her nephew. As the years went by, the organization grew to occupy two buildings, one a shelter/office building and another that allowed them to store donations and prepare the care packages.

“The first people that we helped, four years ago, we had two Vietnam veterans that were on a boat and their boat sank in one of the reefs in the Rockport Harbor. They lost everything,” Reed said.

Reed helped by giving them a place to stay and took care of them until they found someone to pick them up.

When Hurricane Harvey hit, the charity lost its buildings and for two months, they did not send any care packages.

“We didn’t get packages sent in September and October last year after Harvey but as soon as we settled into our new building, we sent 200 packages for Christmas,” Reed said.

Karol Hoapfner, a retired veteran, is a volunteer for the organization. When he was overseas, he said, he wished he had received care packages.

“They depend on stuff like this. In a letter, a guy said that he just ran out of toothpaste the day before he got his package so he was happy to get his toothpaste. The little things mean a lot,” Hoapfner said.

The Press Club will have donation boxes set in the Veteran’s Lounge and journalism lab, both upstairs in the Harvin Center on East Campus, as well as the Veteran’s Service Center in the Coleman Building on West Campus. The drive runs through Nov. 12.

If you would like to donate or volunteer with Coastal Bend Troop Support, they are located at 832 Henderson in Rockport. They are open 1-3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, with Peer to Peer Group Meetings at 10 a.m. Saturdays.

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