America Supports You: Group Provides Troops Vital Link to Home
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2007 A Tennessee-based organization provides deployed servicemembers with a link to home and the gratitude of the American public through care packages and letters it sends.
“Operation Troop Aid is … striving to make a positive difference and inspire our armed forces by letting them know Americans stand with them,” Mark Woods, the group’s president, said.
Operation Troop Aid is a new member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
The group’s primary mission of sending servicemembers things they need is coupled with raising awareness about supporting the men and women defending the country, he said. The importance of that part of the mission is something to which he is attuned. Woods was deployed during the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the group’s Web site.
Shortly after the attacks, he founded Operation Troop Aid. The Tennessee-based organization also has a branch in Virginia, though Woods hopes to expand Operation Troop Aid into a national organization.
The group accepts donations of cash or care package items, and also works with the entertainment industry to generate donations. To date, Operation Troop Aid has worked with Trick Pony, Nickelback, Hootie and the Blowfish, Leann Womack, Travis Tritt, the Beach Boys and Peter Frampton.
Other events, such as the “Punch Run for the Troops Benefit” scheduled for July 21, also help raise funds and donations for the group, he said.
For this event, bikers are invited to gather at the Harley-Davidson Shop in Hampton Roads, Va., where the ride begins. There, they can buy a punch card for $15. When each merchant listed on the card has punched it, the ticket holder earns a chance for a prize. At the last stop, participants can pack a box for the troops while they enjoy food and entertainment.
Woods expects to pack 500 care packages for troops that day.
“My dream is to turn (Operation Troop Aid) into the premier care package provider to deployed U.S. troops,” he said on the group’s Web site. “What better way to express our freedom than to reach out to the ones who provide it?”