One Bronxite is doing her part to help our men and women in uniform.
LaVonne Barksdale is collecting cards and goods for service members through her role as New York Branch Leader for Hero Helpers of America.
Barksdale got involved with the Massachussetts-based organization while her son was in boot camp for the Navy last fall. She said she wanted to find a way to help the military community when she got in touch with the founder.
Barksdale said she would like to collect 1,500 to 2,000 cards at the the Owen Dolen Recreation Center drop-off location in Westchester Square.
“But the more, the better,” she said.
The drive is the first partnership between Hero Helpers of America and Heartillery Group, which also sends cards to active members
In addition to cards, the organizations are collecting items that include new toiletries such as shampoo and hand sanitizer (but no aerosol cans), sealed snacks such as beef jerky and nuts, and books or magazines in good condition.
“Anything that might go into a care package, that you think they’d enjoy,” she said.
Donations will be accepted until June 22, so that the organization can try and get the cards and packages to their recipients by the Fourth of July.
Cards can be homemade or store bought, but envelopes should be unaddressed and unsealed.
Barksdale said she started becoming more aware of various military issues when her son was going through boot camp.
“It means more to me now that it’s part of my family,”
Since then, she has gotten involved in the military community in ways such as sending letters to recruits going through boot camp, which she said is an extremely tough process.
She said she feels that sending mail to recruits and active members helps because it has the ability to brighten the recipients’ day.
“It’s a morale booster,” Barksdale said. “It shows that people who don’t even know them care about them.”
Barksdale said that working with Hero Helpers of America is just one step in her service to the military community.
“This is a spring board for something I want to do on a larger scale.”
She would like to provide support for veterans, she said, in the form of a house that would provide a transition space in addition to other services.
“If they don’t have family or a support system, where do they go?” she asked.
She wants to help tackle big issues like unemployment and mental health of veterans, one service member at a time.
But for now, she’s focusing on the little things, like cards.
“There is no donation too small.”