NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Imagine being thousands of miles away from home during the holidays; it’s something many of our military members experience.
A Navy veteran started a nonprofit to make sure those men and women know people at home care about them.
Chelsea Mandello started Troopster back in 2015. Her mission: help as many service members as possible.
“The boxes we’re going to be packing today are going to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and troops that are deployed to the Mediterranean,” Mandello said. “These are really going to make a big impact.”
10 On Your Side caught up with Mandello at Amplified IT in Norfolk as volunteers assembled care packages.
“I served in the Navy for seven years while I deployed across 13 countries and nine different ships,” Mandello said. “It was during my time in the military that I realized how important care packages were.”
In 2015, she sent 500 care packages. Since then, Troopster started partnering with businesses across the country, like Amplified IT. Those volunteers packed 500 boxes in one day.
“It has a personal meaning for, I think, some of the staff here. We have loved ones who are in the military,” said Alicia Fitzpatrick, who works at Amplified IT. “Also, just the community is largely military, so it’s way for us to make an impact in the local community and serve the troops who are serving the country.”
This year, Troopster will send 5,000 care packages to troops all around the world.
“Being a veteran and having been deployed, I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to see so many businesses and people come together to make care packages for troops who are deployed,” Mandello said.
Mandello says she never expected her nonprofit to get this big, but she’s thrilled, knowing these special deliveries make the holiday season a little bit brighter for those who receive them.
“For those who are getting these care packs, it’s this feeling of Christmas,” said Mandello. “Whenever they get these boxes and they open them up and they know that they’re from home, it’s such a fantastic feeling to know that someone back home cares about you.”
If you’d like to volunteer or send a care package to one of your loved ones, visit Troopster’s website.