Volunteers pack gifts for troops
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent November 20, 2011 6:54PM
Nolan Owensby, 9, of Crown Point, Ind., picks out personal items to pack for troops overseas at the Porter County Airport in Valpariaso, Ind., on Sunday Nov. 20, 2011. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
† Supplies for GI’s is taking donations through Dec. 12 for postage at any Centier Bank in Northwest Indiana. Checks made out to the U.S. Postal Service also can be mailed to Cherie Cope, P.O. Box 65, Leroy IN 46355.
† For more information about Supplies for GI’s or to submit the name of a soldier to receive a package, visit the website
Updated: December 22, 2011 8:11AM
VALPARAISO — Cherie Cope is sitting atop a ladder at Hangar C9 at the Porter County Regional Airport.
She is directing a crew of volunteers — and more are streaming through the door — to pack boxes bound for soldiers worldwide.
“Thank you very much for coming here; God bless our soldiers and, more than anything, God bless America,” Cope said Sunday, before reminding volunteers to put canned goods on the bottoms of the boxes.
This is the seventh year Cope, of Leroy, has amassed donated food, toiletries and other goods, letters and cards from area school children and veterans groups, and thousands of dollars to cover postage to send Christmas care packages to the troops. Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 104, of which Cope is a member, also has helped.
The effort started when her son-in-law, a Marine, was stationed in Iraq and told Cope’s daughter that some of his fellow soldiers never got a letter or package from home. She put together 29 care packages that first year.
“I hope we’re going to have 400; last year we had 360,” she said.
Packages will go to soldiers in South Korea, Afghanistan, domestic bases and wherever else the military is — except Iraq, since those troops are scheduled to return home.
Cope has received thank-you letters from package recipients, including a large American flag flown in her honor during a dangerous mission.
“We don’t realize the difference we make in their lives,” she said.
Patricia Zoch was one of the 100 or so volunteers who helped pack the boxes. The Valparaiso resident is a member of the American Legion Post 94 Auxiliary; she and two other members pitched in.
“It’s comfort in a box, a little piece of home,” she said.