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Families join Blue Star Moms in sending care packages to troops

Cartons filled with comfort items
By: Teresa O’Hanlon, Placer Herald correspondent
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Loraine Browning of Rocklin still holds dear a picture her son, Steve Jr., drew when he was 6-years old. Below the Crayola sketch of a military vehicle he wrote, “When I grow up I want to be in the Army and drive a tank.” 

While it seems like yesterday her little boy dressed up in camouflage and played paintball with friends, Major Stephen Browning Jr. has completed one tour in Kosovo, two 12-month tours in Iraq, and currently serves in the California National Guard.

“We are very proud of him and his service to our country,” Browning shared. “I am a Blue Star Mom through Steve Jr.’s military status.”

Browning volunteers as the financial secretary for the Sacramento Blue Star Moms, a nonprofit veteran service organization always searching for op-portunities to engage the community in remembering troops overseas. 

A welcome call came in from Rocklin resident Josephine Suryono, who is tied closely to local families with her two BounceU franchises in Roseville and Rancho Cordova. 

Suryono wanted to offer her young patrons a special connection to American military troops serving overseas on the 9/11 anniversary.

“It’s a program we started called Kids for Kids and we support different organizations every year,” she shared. “I love working with the Sacramento Blue Star Moms and I knew this was the perfect way for kids to learn about our heroes overseas and how they can help support our troops.” 

More than 150 families took part in the Support Our Troops Benefit Bounce, where children donated care package items, wrote letters to soldiers and learned some history in a Blue Star Moms storytelling session. 

Peyton Murphy of Rocklin attended the BounceU event with her soccer team and couldn’t wait to take a peek inside one of the care packages that will be shipped to the Middle East this December.

“It’s really good that we’re doing this because we’re supporting the people that are saving the world,” the 8-year old said. 

Alli Brustman was excited to decorate her letter to a soldier with American flag stickers.

“It’s nice that we can remember them because they are fighting for our country and they are out in the desert,” shared the third-grader. 

The Sacramento Blue Star Moms hold events throughout the year to collect donations for care packages to comfort military sons and daughters in harm’s way. The non-profit plans to send 600 care packages off to troops on Dec. 1.

Sacramento Blue Star Moms President Vivienne Yamamoto was excited to see a variety of care package donations.

“The fundraisers we hold pay for the postage and all the items we receive come from donations,” she said. “We’re still sending troops to Afghanistan. Those are our kids over there. If we don’t take care of them, then who else is going to do so? We are huge advocates for veterans’ resources.” 

Browning pointed out that care packages re-mind soldiers they are not forgotten. 

“The biggest need we have for the care packages is jerky because jerky lasts a long time, doesn’t spoil and overall it’s an expensive item,” noted Browning. “A care package brings a touch of home to those who are far away from home, normally in a very trying time. Many of our soldiers are without the comforts of having a kitchen or being served food. Many of them can’t get to extra water to wash themselves and they also have to drink a lot of water because it’s so hot and dry over there.” 

Rocklin mom Ebonie Garner was thankful BounceU scheduled the benefit on 9/11.

“I think it is so awesome because what you do is you take something they know is fun and that they want to do and you ease a little bit of history into it,” she said. “Children have so many questions and this is the way to tell them gently what happened. We can talk about it freely with these young ones and show them how we won’t forget.” 

The Sacramento Blue Star Moms reside in Sacramento and South Placer County and support all troops, regardless of their hometown. 

Browning feels blessed that a local business is so supportive of their mission to send care packages to soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

“It just shows how the residents of Rocklin, such as Josephine, are just so patriotic,” Browning added. “Her enthusiasm and energy have just totally impressed us. I feel very, very proud to know that she lives in Rocklin and she’s a great representative of our hometown.” 

The Sacramento Blue Star Moms website, www.sacramentobluestarmoms.org, has a list of upcoming events and information on care package donations.