From left, Greg Alouf, Susan Beckner, and Stephen Alouf. Photo Miranda Adkins, So Salem
Life on the front lines for soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn’t seem like it would be comfortable, obviously, but when Susan Beckner realized some basic needs going unfulfilled for many troops, she found herself wanting to do something about it.
“We always taught our son to share, so we always sent extra in his care packages,” Beckner said. Once she started to realize just how long it could take for a PX truck to reach the front lines of the war, she wanted to do something about it.
“Pictures I saw gave me a new look on things,” she said. Some of the lengths the soldiers have to go through to cook food other than what’s in their military survival food pack. They also sometimes don’t get the chance to experience routine creature comforts like daily showering and other things that folks back home often take forgranted.
Operation Military Parents is an organization with a lot of parents from Botetourt, but they serve Roanoke and the surrounding area. They’re based out of Christ’s Church at Northside on Florist Road in Roanoke. They send care packages out to soldiers, but they also help servicemen and women and their families here at home, too.
Her doctor, Greg Alouf a cosmetic physician, who had been her father’s primary care physician about a decade ago, is someone she always goes to for advice. He’s pretty much like a little brother to her, she said.
So when OMP was having trouble with last year’s Christmas delivery, she asked Greg Alouf and his brother, Stephen Alouf a cosmetic dentist, if they’d like to help, they jumped right on board.
“Just because they’re in the military, that doesn’t mean they’re taken care of – sometimes they don’t have the basics,” Stephen said.
And though they need and get help putting items in the care packages, they also have to think about the shipping, too. Beckner said their shipping cost them over $8000 last year, and they’re getting ready to send over a big batch of Christmas gifts – 7500 gift bags filled with basics like toothbrushes, deodorant, beef jerky, small but useful things for those who find themselves camping out in the desert in a humvee for months at a time.
For more information about Operation Military Parents, you can visit their website at www.operationmilitaryparents.com or call 476-0486. A complete list of requested and needed items is on their website. Their mailing address is c/o Christ’s Church at Northside, 5110 Florist Rd. NW, Roanoke VA 24012.
-Slim Jims and Beef Jerky
-Deviled Ham, Vienna Sausages
-Chicken or Ham Salad (premixed in cans)
-Beanie Weenies, Pork n’ Beans (small cans)
-Hot Chocolate or Hot Cider Mix
-Potato Chips, Pretzles, Corn Chips, Peanuts
-Breakfast Bars, Power Bars, Granola Bars
-Pop Tarts Cookies, Peanut Butter or Cheese Nabs
-Pudding Cups (no refridgeration required)
-Fruit Mix, Trail Mix, Dried Fruit
-Little Debbie Snacks
-Hard Candy, Gummy Bears, Candy Taffy
-Combs and Hair Brushes
-Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Mouthwash (plastic bottles only)
-Hand and Foot Lotion
-Twin Bed Sheets (black,tan or grey)
-Women’s Tolietries (sanitary items)
-Foot Powder and Baby Powder
-Socks (black, tan or grey)
-CD’s (any kind)
-Small Pocket Bibles
-Hand Held Games
-International Calling Cards
-Handwritten notes of encouragement and support