Care packages continue to cheer up troops abroad
Tess Haribacka is a true untiring advocate for the troops.
She sent the first care packages more than a decade ago to her sons, Zach Brady and Doug Beck, while they served with the United States Army in Iraq.
“It was such an emotional time,” she said of those early days of the war.
She soon realized that there were many other U.S. troops that were not as fortunate as her sons. They were not getting the care packages like she was sending her sons.
Something had to be done, she thought.
So along with two other women, including an Army mom, Haribacka started Operation America Standing in Support (OASIS).
Based in Brevard, OASIS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the morale and welfare of troops deployed overseas and serving at war by sending them themed-care packages and handwritten cards.
Haribacka has continued for 11 years now and said she has no plans of stopping.
“There are still young men and women out there serving,” she said. “I’ve kept it going because our motto was ‘Until the last one comes home.’”
Thousands of packages have since been sent to other men and women serving overseas. Haribacka does not know how many because it was never about numbers but about sending a package to anyone serving.
Anyone can sign up a family member or friend serving overseas to receive mail and packages from OASIS.
The organization and its army of volunteers also honors local heroes returning home on time off and at the end of deployment with recreational activities such as “Welcome Home” parties, tickets to local venues and other events.
Brady was injured in Afghanistan and was medically discharged and Beck has since left the Army after serving two deployments to Iraq. But the packages and mail continue.
It shows how Haribacka and other volunteers don’t just say they support the troops, but show they truly care by giving their time and money to make life a little better for those serving.
The group recently mailed its Halloween-themed care packages and is preparing for “Stockings from Home” in time for Christmas.
Haribacka has received awards and been praised many times through the years for her work on behalf of the military men and women. Among the awards is the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama.
Haribacka said she is driven to keep up the work because she knows how much it is appreciated. She has received hundreds of letters of appreciation from military men and women and from their units and commanders. .
For more information about OASIS or how to help, go to the website oasisofcfl.org.