Donors Offer "Goodies" for Joint Endeavor Troops
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 6, 1996 Defense Logistics Agency officials are scrambling to keep up with thousands of bulk donations flooding into agency's facilities for shipment to troops in Bosnia, according to the agency's Joanne Barreca.
Donations started arriving in early February after the agency announced it is accepting items for American service members in Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and on ships at sea.
"Once the troops hear people want to give stuff, they want it," she said. "It's a good morale booster."
In less than a month, the agency's Bosnia Donations Office logged more than 40,000 pieces of stationery and envelopes, 50,000 assorted cookies, 15,000 chocolate bars, 500 pairs of mohair wool socks, 20,000 celebrity posters, 800 board games, hundreds of pairs of gloves, 400 bags of chips with several cases of picante sauce and more than 10,000 care packages from various community groups.
Businesses, community groups and individuals started offering donations long before the agency and U.S. European Command were ready to accept them, Barreca noted.
"When we started accepting donations in early February, we'd already received offers of 20,000 jars of hot sauce, Texasshaped corn chips, several thousand decks of playing card and hundreds of pounds of cheese and salami," she said. "A company wants to set up six video telephone systems here and six in Bosnia so people can see the people they're talking to. They even offered to print pictures of the people on the screens."
Bulk donations must be individually and specifically approved by the U.S. European Command in advance before the agency can accept them, Barreca pointed out. The agency wants to discuss plans with donors before they start collections.
Requests by entertainers to perform for Joint Endeavor troops are turned over to the USO or Army Community and Family Support Center.
DoD transports donations to the Balkans. Donors must pay for transportation to designated DoD installations. Many items are restricted, and there are concerns about host country sensitivities, Barreca said.
"We don't accept alcoholic beverages, drugs, firearms, combustibles, explosives, porn or obscene materials," Barreca said. "Books and magazines are touchy, too. We have to go through them to make sure they dont offend host country sensitivities."
Types of donations for Bosnia differ from those accepted during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, she noted. "The desert heat caused a melting problem in the Persian Gulf," Barreca said. "Troops with time on their hands wanted books to read. Communities had book drives, and schools and cities put together big book collections.
"Books are probably not as popular or as feasible in Bosnia because troops are busy building bridges, keeping warm, out of the mud and avoiding stepping on mines," she said.
The agency has also received many offers to help Bosnian kids and communities, such as 5,000 teddy bears, but Barreca said the agency can't accept donations for the Bosnians.
Potential donors can get information about DoD's program for accepting and transporting bulk donations by calling: (800) 8410937 or (703) 7675266.
The phone number is also good for information concerning acceptable material donations, anyservicemember mail addresses, monetary donations and potential bulk donations. Callers can also obtain email addresses and electronic bulletin board locations for more information about bulk donations.
Email requests for information should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The bulk donations program doesn't affect the ongoing shipment of small items, up to 70 pounds, to deployed individuals and units by the mail service operated by the Military Postal Service Agency, Barreca emphasized.
Persons wishing to donate money should contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Arlington, Va., at (703) 6070918.