Jim Gleim knew the drill as a Marine deployed during Operation Desert Storm.
It never failed. Whenever a care package arrived from home, he was surrounded by friendly forces determined to get at the snacks stored in the cardboard box.
“Everyone would swarm around him,” Lois Gleim recalled. “They knew there was food in it ... Slim Jims, crackers and cookies. He shared it with the other guys.
“I know how important it was when my son was overseas,” she said. “They don’t get beef jerky out in the desert. They don’t get potato chips. It means a lot when they have a snack over there.”
Gleim was one of nine volunteers Tuesday who prepared a shipment of care packages to send to 27 people who are deployed overseas in Iraq. She serves as third vice-president for the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary of Post 274 in Carlisle — the group that coordinates the program and invites the public to submit names.
“They can email or call me the name of the soldier and their address overseas,” said Donna Moyer, Ladies Auxiliary president. “I guarantee that our ladies will be on it and that a box will be out within a couple of days.
“Our soldiers are overseas fighting for the things we take for granted over here stateside,” Moyer said. “Our main focus is our soldiers and our veterans.”
Readers can provide information on a deployed soldier, sailor, Marine, airman and coast guardsman by sending an email to Moyer at email@example.com or by calling her cellphone at 226-6083.
Volunteers will then prepare a care package to send. Each package includes personal toiletries and plenty of snack food to boost morale.
By contacting Moyer, the public can donate such toiletries as shaving cream, razors, wet wipes, foot powder, shampoo, deodorant, hand sanitizer, Q-tips, contact lens solution, tissues and sunscreen with a high SPF.
Often those deployed have to buy their personal hygiene products from the post exchange, Moyer said. By collecting items for shipment overseas, it saves servicemen and women money they could put to other uses.
The Ladies Auxiliary would prefer the public donate money toward the future purchase of snacks rather than donate food directly to the AMVETS post. Money is preferred because weeks or months could go by before auxiliary members receive new names and addresses.
“I don’t want snack food lying around to get stale,” Moyer said. “I want to get it fresh.”
To donate money, checks should be made payable to: AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary, 1580 Ritner Highway, Carlisle 17013. Moyer advised donors to write in the memo line “care packages” so that the money could be earmarked to the correct bank account.
The public can also support the Ladies Auxiliary by buying products during fundraisers such as the Mother’s Day flower sale scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Country Nook at 1003 Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg.
Over the years, the Ladies Auxiliary has shipped board games, crossword puzzle books and decks of cards to those deployed overseas. While appreciated, what those in the military really crave are snack foods including honey buns, Tastykakes, M&Ms, Swedish Fish, peanut butter crackers and sunflower seeds.
Judy Killinger, first vice-president of the auxiliary, has been involved in the volunteer effort for about two years. She has a son who is an active duty Marine and a granddaughter in the Army National Guard in North Carolina.
“This is just a little piece of home that says we know you are over there and we support you,” Killinger said of the packages. “This is just my little way of saying thank you.”
The Ladies Auxiliary started sending care packages to service men and women during Operation Desert Storm, Gleim said. The local effort had renewed momentum after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the deployment of US forces to Afghanistan and Iraq.
For almost 16 years now, the Ladies Auxiliary has upheld a tradition in downtown Carlisle that began in the wake of the attacks. They gather on the Square in Carlisle on the 11th day of every month to wave signs and American flags from 4 to 4:30 p.m., urging drivers to show their support for men and women in uniform.