For any parent who has sent a child off to college, you know it can be a gut-wrenching experience. Now, imagine not being able to communicate with your son or daughter for several weeks. When you finally can talk, all you get is a one-way conversation – a 10-second scripted phone call saying, “Mom, I’m fine. Things are fine. Goodbye.”
This is the experience of moms who have sons or daughters in boot camp or the military. The national organization known as Blue Star Moms was formed to provide much-needed support to parents of deployed military personnel. The group was formed during World War II, and the name originates from the custom of hanging a service flag in a military home’s front window. The flag contains a blue star for each family member currently serving in the Armed Forces, thus the name Blue Star Moms. A gold star represents a family member who has died while serving in the military.
The local group of Blue Star Moms was formed 15 years ago. Four moms who knew each other from other social circles were talking one day about how difficult it was to have children who were deployed. They decided to form the club to offer support to other moms going through the same experience. Now, the club has over 100 members. Ladies drive from all over Houston and from as far away as Brenham to attend the monthly meetings every fourth Tuesday.
The Blue Star Moms are currently organizing a donation drive to make sure troops abroad have items for Christmas. The club is getting help from the local high school NJROTCs. Kingwood High School NJROTC has organized a donation drive through Nov. 22, and several NJROTC groups will help the Blue Star Moms on packing day Nov. 26.
“These guys are the muscle!” said Blue Star Mom and Co-president Dianne Rives of the NJROTC group. “They help us so much on packing day. They try to see how fast they can pack the boxes. It’s fun to watch.”
NJROTC booster club mom Kathleen Jordan said the NJROTC loves to help out. “We are looking forward to making a real contribution to our troops,” Jordan said.
Donations of items needed by the troops are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off at the Nov. 26 packing party at 7 p.m. or Nov. 25 between 5-8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall at 307 Charles Street in Humble.
Blue Star Moms have a list of items they need for the care packages at bsmhouston.memberize.net/clubportal/clubdocs/1819/Care%20Package%20Suggestion%20List.pdf. They are always looking for Christmas cards and letters to put with the care packages. Rives and fellow Co-president Vickie Schultz say they get lots of cards and letters from schools, daycares, churches, companies and other organizations who want to show appreciation to the troops.
The care packages go to service men and women who are deployed worldwide. The troops absolutely appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Blue Star Moms back home, as evidenced by the many thank-you letters received, like this one: “Thanks, Blue Star Moms! We are grateful for the care packages you sent us here in Japan. We appreciate the support from back home and we love you all!”
Rives tells the story of a group of soldiers being deployed in Iraq. They pulled out of the base, and quickly realized the care packages were not on the truck. Needless to say, they turned around to get them. Rives said that this time of year in particular, the troops love to get new socks, so those donations are always welcome.