When Moorestown resident Kathryn Supko’s son joined the Navy, she became involved with Operation Yellow Ribbon, the military support organization.
“As a mama bear, I just (kind of) thought, ‘Oh my god. All of these young men and young women that we don’t really have in the forefront of our minds aren’t enjoying the luxuries that most of their friends are enjoying,” said Supko. “Whether it be even just a candy bar, a simple thing like that.”
Since 2018, Supko has run a local drive for Operation Yellow Ribbon at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach (BHHS) in Moorestown.
“We have found that this is a very good community in the sense of opening up their hearts,” she noted.
Operation Yellow Ribbon is a volunteer nonprofit based out of South Jersey that plans welcome-home events for men and women of the military who have been deployed to the Middle East and sends morale boosting care packages to service members.
Dave Silver, president of Operation Yellow Ribbon, has a warehouse in Marlton where he collects and ships out all care packages.
“I started out (doing it) because I wanted to show my support for our military personnel,” Silver explained. “But then the more I did it, the more I saw the responses and the thank you’s and the tokens of appreciation.”
“The more I did, the more (they) thanked us, and the more (they) thanked us, the more I wanted to do, so it was kind of like a ying-and-yang principle,” he added. “It never breaks, it just keeps chasing itself.”
Supko and her co-workers fill up boxes with goods such as snacks, baby items and teas donated by community members, then compile a list of every item in every box for organization.
“It’s a mixture of supplies that you would be (kind of) surprised that they can’t get,” said Supko. “Women need mirrors, just little handheld mirrors. Personal hygiene items, things like that.”
“They ask for a lot of the personal (stuff), like candy, but nice candy,” she added. “Not just anything out of the ordinary. Puzzles, books, gum, just different things like that.”
During the height of the pandemic, Supko had community members donate items to her home.
“I know how generous people can be when you ask (for stuff), and maybe it’s only half of what they gave the last time,” she noted. “But you know that it’s also a comfort for them to know that they’re helping out in some way, even if it’s just a small bag of something.”
BHHS Fox & Roach accepts donations year-round.
“I don’t think that this is something that is going to go away,” Supko said. “It might taper down a little bit, but it’ll never (ever) go away. And it will rev back up again too.”
“We will always have things going on overseas.”