roup Ensures Troops Get Support They Deserve

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2007 - Deployed servicemembers worldwide have been receiving a steady stream of care packages, e-mail and "snail mail" since 2004 from a group of "Proud Patriots" in Arizona.

Proud Patriots, a troop-support group, provides morale and material support to America's deployed military personnel worldwide through six annual care-package campaigns primarily centered on holidays, Joe Jenkins, the organization's president, said. "We send care packages to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Korea, Germany, Italy and Africa."

With three shipping hubs -- in Virginia, Missouri and Arizona -- the group ships packages during its six holiday-centered campaigns.

"Our founder was contacted in 2004 by a Marine lieutenant colonel and asked if we could provide assistance to his wife's unit," Jenkins said. "Basic necessities were not available, and our contact was hoping we could help."

The group's founder immediately sent out requests to friends and families, he added. Soon, several hundred boxes of food, clothing, hygiene, and entertainment items were donated for the servicemembers.

"Seeing that a need existed, (our founder) gathered a few of her closest friends and we put together Proud Patriots, Inc." Jenkins said. "Since then, we've expanded to where we are today, sending thousands of care packages annually to hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines deployed to locations all over the globe."

Proud Patriots recently became a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

"We are sure that our association (with America Supports You) will help us to increase our visibility," Jenkins said. "We are looking forward to exchanging fundraising tips with other home-front groups and expanding our contact base of troops who need to know that we at home care about them."