In a home in Penn Hills, there's a stockpile of snacks, toiletries and handwritten notes. It may look odd at first, but it's the storage space for an operation helping thousands of U.S. military members.
Military Connections first started fifteen years ago, when Summer Tissue's brother served as a Marine. She learned how critical basic supplies could be, and started shipping care packages to help out. Now she has a volunteer army of her own – hundreds of people chipping in each year to send out 13,000 care packages.
“We're a volunteer-run organization, so if we didn't love it, we definitely wouldn't do it,” Tissue told Channel 11.
The holidays are an extra busy time. They ship out stockings and packages, 4,000 shipments in all.
- Local officer arrested for DUI, placed on administrative leave
- Doctor: Seattle woman who died of brain-eating amoeba used tap water in Neti pot
- Local EMT accused of sending explicit photos to underage teen he treated
- VIDEO: Former Pittsburgh Pirates player Jose Castillo killed in crash
- DOWNLOAD the Channel 11 News app for breaking news alerts
“We ship a lot of Christmas decorations” she said. “We ship little trees and sometimes we might be able to ship baking supplies to a unit so they can make Christmas cookies.”
The donations come from all over. Churches and schools send big groups of donations. One time, they asked for Little Debbie snacks because one soldier wrote them, saying he missed the treats. Donors came up with 400 boxes.
“It is obviously difficult for them to be away from home, whether it is holiday time or regular time, but the packages do remind them that people care,” Tissue said.
She and the other volunteers never planned for the mission to become so big. She says they have no exit strategy, and they don't want one.
“Until that need overseas has ended, we're going to keep doing it,” she said.
You have until Dec. 11 to donate in time for a Christmas shipment. If you don't make that date, don't worry. They ship year-round and are already planning for Super Bowl packages. You can click here to find out more.