My name is Bob O'Donoghue, one of several volunteers with Operation First Response (OFR), an all-volunteer, non-profit, supporting our wounded heroes and their families. OFR was founded by a good friend of mine; Peggy Baker. To learn more about how OFR got started, please visit http://www.operationfirstresponse.org/aboutus.htm
I have no military experience. The closest to the military I get, is my Dad, several uncles and an aunt who served in WWII (One uncle was a POW.) and one uncle went on to serve in Vietnam. During the first Gulf War, I obtained a pen pal. To this day, we still exchange holiday greetings. Recently, she wrote to ask if I had a pen pal for the current deployment and to let me know how much my letters and packages meant to her during her deployment. She told me Iíd never know how much it meant. Possibly, but I have a hunch. I didnít start with one pen pal. Along with Operation Iraqi Freedom came stricter controls for mailing and no longer could one write to ďany soldier.Ē In joining a non-profit group, I started to accumulate the names of soldiers to support. Accumulate as in addicted. I couldnít say no. At one point, I had over twenty names. I had to dwindle the names down. As the first ones returned home, they would ask me to support one of their friends. If a soldier had no family or friends supporting him/her, there was no hesitation to add them to my list. Itís the least I could do.
I still support soldiers in Iraq, but Iím down to a manageable handful. My drive is reinforced by the thanks from those Iíve helped, letting me know what a difference it truly makes. After talking with Peggy, I realized we shouldnít allow ourselves to forget our wounded heroes. My focus shifted to helping the wounded by collecting items to send to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). July 9, 2004 was my first visit to WRAMC. The strength, the will, the determination that these young men and women have after being wounded, and in some cases losing a limb, is inspiring. One young soldier said for all the good they were doing in Iraq and knowing what happened to him, he would go back and do it again. When Peggy started OFR in September 2004, I knew I wanted to help her however I could. In addition, I also joined Give 2 The Troops www.Give2TheTroops.org; As sister charities, we make a joint effort to support our soldiers.
Iím going to list a few of our Current OFR Projects;
ē OFR sends OFR Backpacks to the Combat Support Hospitals (CSH) and military hospitals for the wounded which include much needed and welcomed Quilts. Our wounded soldiers usually arrive with only their uniform.
ē OFR accepts Donations of Frequent Flyer Miles to help soldiers and/or their families.
ē Transportation: to & from Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and Bethesda Naval Hospital.
ē Peggy and her husband Steve make weekly visits to WRAMC to bring items to our wounded soldiers. Iíve had the honor to accompany them on several visits and look forward to future visits.
One of the new projects for OFR is Wounded Snack Packs. Prior to my first visit to WRAMC, I supported a soldier named Angie from the 933rd FST assigned to the 31st CSH in Iraq. When asked how I could help the patients at the CSH, Angie suggested snack packs for the wounded. The snack packs could be placed on their beds, which gave them something when the mess tent was closed or if they werenít mobile to get out of bed. Eventually, Angie was deployed to Afghanistan but gave me the name of a new contact to receive the snack packs. Along the line, no new contact info was passed back to me and a contact name is needed to send the packages.
Currently, I have contacts with the 228th CSH in Tikrit, Iraq and the 86th CSH in Baghdad. On June 11th, 3 boxes of snack packs were mailed to the 228th CSH and the 86th CSH. Thanks to the snack pack assembly by Girl Scout Troop 4517 of Watertown, CT. Local Girl Scouts and a church group help me with the assembly of the snack packs when I send them out. Sending the snack packs is new for OFR, though it all started because of OFR and Peggy.
We are working on setting up a web page about the Wounded Snack Packs on OFR and it will contain a PayPal button for anyone who wishes to donate online. Meanwhile you can send a check to:
Operation First Response
C/O Wounded Snack Packs
20037 Dove Hill Road
Culpeper, VA 22701
The snack pack ingredients and shipping are estimated at $5 per snack pack. The typical snack pack includes:
Twizzlers <5 pieces>
Slim Jims <4 pieces>
Planters Nuts <2 small bags>
Trail Mix <1 bag>
Chewy Granola Bars <2 pieces>
Quaker Oats Bars <2 pieces>
Cookies <2 packages>
The items are then placed in a one-gallon Ziploc bag, which the soldier can use for something else after the snacks are gone.
And, of course, we'd be grateful for Any Donations We Receive for any project we have going. :-)
with questions or comments about this web site.