America Supports You: Care Packager Honored for Good Deeds to Troops
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 For nearly three years, Amy Oxford has packed, wrapped and mailed care packages to servicemembers fighting in the global war on terrorism so they know America remembers them. Now she's being recognized for her good deeds.
Amy Oxford, right, of Harrisburg, Ill., will appear on an episode of "The Montel Williams Show" that airs Dec. 1. Williams, left, played host to the five finalists of the Charming Shoppes Inc. "VOICES: One voice can lead to a chorus for change" contest. Oxford was honored for her support of the troops through the nonprofit Southern Illinois Yellow Ribbon Campaign that she and her mother, Kathy Williams, started in 2003. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Oxford and her mother, Kathy Williams, began the Southern Illinois Yellow Ribbon Campaign in March 2003 as a way of encouraging their community of Harrisburg, Ill., to show support for the troops. Oxford said the campaign started with the sales of yellow bows and lapel pins and has evolved into a nonprofit organization that provides custom-designed care packages to the troops.
For her efforts, Oxford recently earned the title "finalist" in a contest sponsored by Charming Shoppes Inc., which owns Fashion Bug, Lane Bryant and Catherine's women's' clothing retailers. Being named a finalist in the "VOICES: One voice can lead to a chorus for change" contest also led to an appearance on the nationally syndicated "The Montel Williams Show" in New York with the four other finalists.
"I didn't know anything about the contest ... and I got a call from someone at Charming Shoppes," she said, explaining that her mother had entered her in the contest. "I got the opportunity to go on (the show) and tell the story of our campaign and exactly how we got started, and to encourage people to support the troops."
The show episode with Oxford is scheduled to air Dec. 1. All five finalists also will appear in the January/February issue of Figure magazine.
"We feel privileged to be able to recognize women such as Amy Oxford, who have chosen to serve their communities for the better," Dorrit Bern, chief executive officer of Charming Shoppes Inc., said in a news release. "Ms. Oxford serves as an inspiration to women across the country by showing them that one voice can make a difference."
Oxford said her experience with the contest gave her what she hopes is a golden opportunity to encourage Americans to continue supporting the troops serving in the global war on terrorism. It also gave her a platform to set the facts straight, she said.
Sporting an "America Supports You" lapel pin that symbolizes her membership in the Defense Department program that showcases troop-support efforts, Oxford told the in-studio "Montel" audience what the nation's viewers will hear when the program airs: Supporting the troops is not a war issue.
"People are tending to get the 'support the troops' thing confused with the war, and I just wanted to stress ... that's not what it is," Oxford said. "I was able to let everybody know that it's not a war issue, it's not a political issue; we just want to support the soldiers."
She added that continued support is important because so many servicemembers serve in the global war on terrorism.
In the SI Yellow Ribbon effort, a friend or relative gets the ball rolling by requesting a package be sent to a servicemember, Oxford explained. Included in that initial generic package is a questionnaire that helps discern the recipient's likes and dislikes. After that, every package is personalized with the recipient's favorite snacks, necessities and any other requested items.
To help the SI Yellow Ribbon Campaign ensure that every servicemember that wants support from back home gets it, Figi, another company under the Charming Shoppes Inc. umbrella, has pledged to donate merchandise. The catalog company specializes in edible gifts.