Group sends gifts to troops

June 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) The volunteers are the heart and soul of Operation Stars and Stripes, founded by Meredith Kelly, who once used her house for the program.

"The bedroom, the garage, the basement, the breezeway... the living room at Christmas was full but we just kept packing because we have comforts at home the troops do not," said Kelly, founder.

The group is now located in a space donated by the Village of Lions. The nonprofit's effort has sent 42 tons of shipments to troops since 2003. Volunteer Mike Roche is a Vietnam vet.

"When I was overseas we didn't get all of the packages that they were sending out today. The more I can do the more I can gives you a good feeling," said Roche.

Beyond the necessities, Operation Stars and Stripes has sent the troops overseas such things as small refrigerators, microwave ovens, crock pots, DVD players and even wheel chairs.

Two volunteers are mothers of servicemen. Martha Navarro's 21-year-old son, George, is in Afghanistan.

"He had come home from his last tour his second tour and he said what guided me through in all those months is not just the package but knowing that people at home care," said Navarro.

Eileen Bruce's 19-year-old son, Nicholas Brodin, is stationed in Iraq.

"They're just ecstatic we sent them so much stuff they that they actually told us to slow a little bit because they can't carry it all...they feel like we haven't forgotten about them," said Bruce.

"This is my mission...everybody needs something that they feel makes a difference," said Kelly.

To learn more about Operation Stars And Stripes, visit or call 708 447 6017.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.