Group Launches Operation Jellybeans to Heroes Unseen

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2007 - After sending thousands of homemade Valentines and boxes of candy to troops serving overseas, SI Yellow Ribbon Campaign is gearing up for its fourth "Operation Jellybeans to Heroes Unseen."

In this operation, the organization sends boxes of Easter goodies to servicemembers to remind them that Americans at home are still thinking about them.

SI Yellow Ribbon Campaign is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that highlights and facilitates the ways Americans and the corporate sector are supporting the nation's servicemembers.

"We try to include in each box a bag of jelly beans, a small chocolate bunny, a box of Peeps, a bag of assorted candy and a carton of marshmallow eggs, along with the cards ... from all across the country," said Amy Oxford, the group's founder. She added that Easter is the last holiday of the year for which she feels comfortable sending chocolate to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because of rising temperatures in those locations.

Oxford is asking for donations for Easter packages to arrive at her Illinois headquarters by March 16. Easter falls on April 8, but the early deadline allows time for volunteers to pack and ship the 500 boxes Oxford hopes to ship to the troops so they arrive by the holiday, she explained.

"We would love to send as many as donations would allow," Oxford said. "There is no shortage of (servicemembers to send to)."

So far the group doesn't have much to put in the Easter boxes, but Oxford said she is not overly concerned yet. "The donations haven't started coming in yet, but we've heard of drives that are beginning to launch and people making plans to get ... items," she said.

This doesn't mean that SI Yellow Ribbon Campaign's shelves will be overflowing after she's hopped down to the post office with the Easter packages. Once those are gone, Oxford will continue to ship care packages as requests come in, she said.

"There have been many new names added to the organization's list as troop rotations continue," Oxford said. "There are constant needs and wants submitted to the group, ... not just on holidays, but year round."

While donations of care package goodies are needed and welcomed all year, cash donations are appreciated, as well, she said. Though the group has recently switched to flat-rate postal boxes to reduce shipping costs, the mailing cost still runs $8.10 per package.

"Our postage fund is always hurting," she said. "There is never a time when we don't need postage."

Candy may soon be in plentiful supply for the group, however. The group is talking with an Illinois-based chocolate manufacturer that has national recognition, Oxford said.

"The plans aren't finalized, but ... the owner is a veteran and looking forward to doing his part to help out," she said.

Shipping and donation information is available on the SI Yellow Ribbon Web site.

[Web Version:]