Thursday, November 30, 2023

Care packages can help lift Father’s Day spirits

Members of the United States Air Force with items from Troopster care packages (HNNDaily photo/Courtesy of Troopster)
Members of the United States Air Force with items from Troopster care packages (HNNDaily photo/Courtesy of Troopster)

Being away from home on a holiday is standard operating procedure for the men and women who serve in our nation’s Armed Forces.

For dads, Father’s Day away from their sons and daughters can be, to say the least, difficult.

Sometimes though in situations like that, even the little things can mean a whole lot.

“We don’t have a specific Father’s Day care package, but we sent out 129 standard care packs specifically for fathers who are currently deployed,” said Chelsea Mandello, CEO and founder of Troopster Military Care Packages, and a veteran of the Navy. “We send all different types of items in each care package. It ranges from non-perishable snack items, bath and body products, and DVDs. Basically, we put in the things service members want and need.”

Norfolk-based Troopster accepts donations and sends free care packages to members of the military, as well as accepting orders for personalized packages for individual service members.

While the care packages are appreciated and much-needed, they can’t replace time spent with family. However, even a simple delivery can lift spirits and improve morale.

“It’s always tough to be away from family and it is even more difficult to be away from children that need your guidance and love. That is why receiving a piece of home is so important, especially on days, such as holidays, in which a service member is reminded that they are away,” Mandello said.

Troopster came about during a difficult deployment, she said. Mandello’s mother had sent her a care package and when she received it everything inside was either melted or destroyed. Mandello wanted to provide her mother a resource that would make it easier for her to support her daughter, but she found that there really wasn’t anything out there.

“Upon returning home, I decided to pay it forward and hopefully help someone else in need by creating an easy-to-use care package company,” Mandello said.

Although it would be nice if the care packages could be delivered on Father’s Day, that’s just not always possible.

“Due to the vast areas of operation and hazardous zones the packs are being sent to, there isn’t really a way to determine the length of time it will take to reach the members,” Mandello said.

Fortunately for service members the Internet has made being away from home on Father’s Day a little easier, with websites and applications like Facebook, Skype, email, and Facetime. Just 10-20 years ago handwritten letters or the hope of a telephone call would’ve been the bright spot on Father’s Day.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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