By Vicki Bradley, Contributing Writer
Southborough – With Memorial Day just weeks away, people's thoughts are filled with barbecues, pool parties and the start of summer. But for many local families, Memorial Day has a much deeper meaning as it is a time to remember the brave men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in the military.
One local mother has made remembering the troops a top priority.
Debbie Depp Wilson of Southborough didn's know much about military life until her daughter, Courtney Wilson, decided to join the Army. Courtney, now 27 and a graduate of Wellesley College, had participated in the ROTC program her freshman year through a program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There she found herself surrounded by other service-oriented people who wanted to help others, and she knew she wanted to be a part of that community, too.? Now a captain, she has served in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Debbie supported Courtney's decision, and wanted to find a way to help her daughter and others like her. It was about at that time that she saw a flyer advertising the “SK1 Steve Whynot Care Package Drive” to support the troops.
“It was serendipity how I got involved,” she said. “I was looking for a way to help, and here was the perfect opportunity.”
Founded in 2005 by Lisa Braccio of Southborough, the care package drive has shipped more than 180,000 pounds and 7,900 boxes to tens of thousands of service men and women actively deployed.
“The soldiers exist under very tough conditions,” Debbie said, noting that she learned that firsthand from her daughter.
“And with the drawing down of troops, they'se closing facilities such as outposts where the soldiers can shop for basic necessities,” she added.
This year will be the 17th time Braccio and Depp Wilson have organized the event. The women ?have created a shopping list of requested items based on feedback they have received from the troops. ?In addition to much needed food items and toiletries, Debbie also suggests people consider contributing cards and letters for the soldiers, because many never receive outside mail at all.
“Typically, soldiers say “don's forget about us”,” Debbie said. ?”So the Care Package Drive is a way for us to show them our appreciation for their service and sacrifice, and to let them know they haven's been forgotten.”
One concern for this year's event is the rising cost of postage. The postage rates for parcel mailing has increased by 50 percent, which means that drive organizers will have to also raise additional money to cover those expenses.
“We'se just hopeful to send out as many care packages as we can there are still many troops deployed, and people are war-weary. The soldiers are so touched by the generosity, and we are so grateful for anything anyone wants to give,” Debbie said.
Braccio said the drive is also being held in honor of Steve Whynot, the local VFW commander.
“He is always there for veterans and everyone alike as well as very active in the town of Southborough,” she said. “It is wonderful opportunity to thank Steve for his service as the drive will be held Armed Forces weekend.”
The Care Package Drive will held outside the Southborough Senior Center, 9 Cordaville Rd. (Rt. 85), Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations can also be made online at http://carepackagesforsoldiers.org. For further information or a shopping list, contact Debbie at (508) 481-6326 or Braccio at 508-481-9939.