Chapter 101 was formed in November 2001 and has more than 150 members from Contra Costa and Alameda counties. The original group formed during World War II but it was after the attacks on Sept. 11 that the local Moms mobilized when they realized the job that was now facing their sons and daughters serving in the Armed Forces.
The group has monthly meetings at the Danville Veterans Hall; members offer support to each other and are there to welcome home returning soldiers. Chapter 101 also helped present a two-day event for the state's Gold Star families, which was held at the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco to comfort the 100 families who have lost their children in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But perhaps the Blue Star Moms are best known for their drop zones, where they collect donations of goodies to put into care packages to send to the troops overseas for the Fourth of July, the Christmas holidays and Valentine's Day. They call it mailing "a little bit of home" to their sons and daughters who are serving around the world. Often they will hear from commanding officers in the field who contact them to say there is a young man or woman who is not receiving any boxes or letters from home. The Blue Star Moms immediately mail off a care package to them with a big blue star on the box to let them know that people from Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California think about and support them.
The Moms also send notes to the troops and include one with each package. Each drop zone has a table set up for folks to send a message of encouragement, and sometimes classes of children will write these notes. Other groups are also welcome to ask their members to write positive messages, chatting a bit about themselves. No stamps are required - the Moms take care of it all.
The Moms report that they know their packages have come to mean a lot to the troops overseas because they get letters from them. One young man named Stephen wrote, "Please know that the packages you have sent me have brought lots of smiles to the faces of my fellow soldiers. I want to extend my sincere thanks to all who volunteer and who work to make our lives brighter."
The Blue Star Moms will have a drop zone tomorrow at the Vets Hall in Danville. Stop by to donate snack items, cotton socks or toys like Frisbees or Hacky-Sacks. Money is always needed for mailing costs. Stop by to show you care.