Story by Deborah Laverty, NWI Times
VALPARAISO, Ind., | Northwest Indiana Times — Chief Petty Officer Arturo Revelo knows first hand the thrill of getting goody-filled care packages from back home while deployed abroad.
Revelo, who heads the Valparaiso-based Navy Recruiting District, Chicago, served in Iraq in 2007 and remembers distinctly the joy of receiving a care package while far from home.
"It means a lot because you feel isolated. It really does mean a lot for the community to show support for us," Revelo said.
Revelo, joined by about 25 U.S. Navy recruits, had the opportunity on Thursday to return that favor by filling and preparing for mailing 50 care packages that will be sent to U.S. Marines serving in Kuwait and other countries.
"The local recruiters try to embrace the community and this is the way we embrace the community," Revelo said of the assistance by him and fellow recruiters.
The filling of the care packages took place at the American Legion, Valparaiso Post 94 with the majority of the items and postage paid for by members there or through such public activities as weekly bingo, Sharon Wyatt said.
Wyatt, American Legion Auxiliary president, said this is the first year the legion has initiated a program called March Into Spring.
"We only began planning about three weeks ago. We kind of went crazy with it," Wyatt said, adding she got the idea from Maryann Maki, an auxiliary member, who approached legion members for assistance with postage to ship out care packages she was sending.
Maki, a Realtor with Century 21 Affiliated, said her company began sending care packages to deployed military a year ago. This year Century 21 Affiliated, which has several offices in the Midwest and Florida, will be sending 125 care packages."On Monday, all the boxes will be shipped out and all will hopefully arrive by Easter or right around Easter," Maki said.
Items in the care packages include toiletries, candy, gum, crackers, lip balm, peanuts and videos. Personal messages from the recruits and American Legion members were also enclosed in the care packages.
Navy Master at Arms 1 James Johnson, who wrote a message on a note tucked inside the care packages, said he remembers receiving a similar box while serving in the Middle East in 2014. His favorite items to receive included beef jerky and sunflower seeds.
"It's an extra boost to get things especially something you haven't had for awhile," Johnson said.
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