Bringing ‘home’ to soldiers far from it

MHS incoming senior Max Blank’s charity organization “Until You’re Home” is collecting supplies for troops abroad.

Photo courtesy of Max Blank.

Soldiers miss the simple things when they’re overseas camped out in an unfamiliar place. Items such as dried foods, hygiene products and games take on new value for soldiers who miss these familiar touches of home. For that reason, Max Blank, a rising senior at Moorestown HIgh School, decided he wanted to give soldiers abroad a taste of home while they are fighting for their country.

The 17-year-old Blank created his charity “Until You’re Home,” which sends care packages to troops around the world. On Saturday, June 24, Until You’re Home held its first open house collection drive, resulting in hundreds of pounds of supplies collected in what Blank hopes is the first of more to drives to come.

Blank said he’s always been an active volunteer at his school, but the inspiration for Until You’re Home came from his own home. He said each year around the holidays, his family would sponsor a soldier to get new boots for Christmas, and he took this idea and got to thinking about doing more for soldiers.

Blank began collecting supplies a few months ago to compile into care packages. He said the process was fairly easy, so why not scale up?

“The people who put service above self the most are the men and women overseas,” Blank said. “I thought it’d be a great opportunity to help them out.”

At the drive, Blank said he felt a groundswell of support. He said his family and friends put the word out, and almost 100 people came to the Blanks’ home with supplies, filling an entire room with nonperishable items.

Blank said in the coming days he and his family will get to work packaging all of the items, which he anticipates will add up to around 100 boxes. He said they work in conjunction with another nonprofit using Any Soldier to request the names and addresses of soldiers from around the country to ship supplies to. Usually, the supplies go to a commanding officer who distributes them to other soldiers.

Volunteers at the event were also encouraged to write letters, Blank said. His hope is once he sends this wave of packages, he’ll hear back from some of the soldiers who received them.

Blank said he will continue to collect supplies for troops and wants to grow Until You’re Home as much as he can. He anticipates the open house collection drive becoming an annual event based on how well the first one went.

Justin Ramos, Blank’s friend at MHS, said he wasn’t surprised when he heard his friend was starting his own charity a few months ago. He said Blank is a humble and positive person who’s always willing to volunteer or help another person.

Ramos said he was excited to show his support at the event, and when he left, he felt a sense of fulfilment.

“It was really good just knowing that I’m helping out people who are helping us,” Ramos said.

In a year, Blank plans to attend college, but he said his goal is to establish Until You’re Home enough that the organization continues to run smoothly — whether that means having one of his siblings take over in his place or bringing the charity to his school.

“I’m hoping maybe if it gets big enough we can reach out to the school,” Blank said.

To get involved or donate to Until You’re Home, visit http://www.untilyourehome.com.