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Boxes from Home: St. Charles Group Sends Care Packages to Military Overseas

Justine Riggs and Barbara Baum started CHAMP in 2003.

Justine Riggs has helped send more than 4,000 boxes to local troops serving overseas. It’s a small way for her to show support and appreciation for the military.

“The reason we have our freedom is because of them,” she said.

Riggs and her good friend, Barbara Baum, started Citizens Helping American Military Personnel (CHAMP) in 2003. The organization collects names of local men and women who are serving overseas and sends them a care package each month filled with food, entertainment and toiletries. 

Each box gets snacks, extra socks and letters from local children.

The group has sent anywhere from 15 to 40 care packages each month since 2003. They get a list of names of people who are serving oversees who have some tie to St. Charles.

In the beginning, the group spent close to $500 on postage each month. Now the offers fixed-price boxes that make it much more cost effective.

Several Boy and Girl Scout groups, schools and businesses help pack boxes regularly. "Seems like every time we get low on funds, someone comes through for us," Riggs said.

The group stores supplies and packs the boxes at a house owned by the off of Zumbehl Road. The fire stations serve as drop-off locations for CHAMP.

Riggs said following the attacks on Sept. 11, she felt very proud to be an American. Since she started CHAMP, she's been so glad to see the community come together for a worthy cause. 

"It doesn't have anything to do with how you feel about the war," she said.

The servicemen and women appreciate it, Riggs said. CHAMP has received letters and visits from veterans who express their thanks.

“It’s really cool to see how much it means to them,” she said. “It’s such a small thing, but it means so much.” 

Items that can be donated:

  • Food: Granola, candy, gum, beef jerky, Ramen noodles, fruit snacks, pop corn, peanuts, noodle meals, individual drink mixes, condiments
  • Personal care items: Wet wipes, sunscreen, toilet paper, cough drops, individual Kleenex packs, travel sized toiletries, socks
  • Entertainment: Paperback books, magazines, cards, pen and paper, card games

For more information about CHAMP, email Justine Riggs at justineriggs@yahoo.com.

How do you think the community has changed since Sept. 11? How have you changed? Share your story with St. Charles Patch readers. Email editor Kalen Ponche at kalen.ponche@patch.com.

Eileen Birin July 19, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I belong to a Soroptimist group in Glendale, Az. We have packed 30 boxes for women in the military. They are ready to be sent overseas. However our contact at Luke AFB is out of town for 4 months and our new contact is not helpful. Do you have any connections in the Phoenix area who could help us out. We would drop these boxes off wherever. Thanks much for your help. Eileen Birin; neeliepubl@aol.com

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