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Group in need of donations to fill care packages for troops

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Feb 17 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 05:04:17 AM CST

For 12 years, Berks Operation Enduring Freedom has shipped thousands of care packages to troops overseas.

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. -

For 12 years, Berks Enduring Freedom has shipped thousands of care packages to troops overseas.  But this week, volunteers are preparing to send their last shipment ever.

In the past, when Berks Enduring Freedom started, organizers had plenty of donations and volunteers.

"We were swamped with people, and we were swamped with items," said founder Simone Sauers-Houck.

For this last shipment, the group wants the same excitement from 12 years ago, but many bins are nearly empty.

"Batteries. They want batteries for everything, We usually have this stacked to the top," said Sauers-Houck. "There's no batteries."

Sauers-Houck toured the warehouse where she plans to pack 1,500 boxes -- two boxes per soldier.

"I have the boxes. I have the names, but I need the merchandise," said Sauers-Houck.

If you want to donate your time, money or something for the troops, you can go to the Muhlenberg Industrial Mall, Building 4408H on Route 61 in Muhlenberg Township.  Simone will be there 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. until Friday morning.

"We haven't forgotten them. I haven't forgotten them," said Sauers-Houck. "This is very emotional for me."

Simone's son served in Desert Storm and made it back. She's grateful to him and all who serve, and she wanted to provide care packages as long as soldiers are at war.  For the last three years, she's tried to figure out how to make it continue, but her health and lack of help won't allow it.

"It's just been so many things, and I can't get it all done by myself and I try," said Sauers-Houck.

It's been an emotional task.

"So, if you have someone in the military, I love you. I love them, and I'm sorry I can not keep this going any longer. Please forgive me," said Sauers-Houck, who's not giving up on the last shipment. "So, fill all those packages and to buy this, we're talking another $8,000. I need about $15,000 to complete this shipment," said Sauers-Houck.

The shipment will deliver the enduring message -- "Support our troops."

For more information about how you can help, you can contact Simone Sauers-Houck at 610-207-3300.

You can also drop off donations this week at 4220 Pottsville Pike, Building 4408H, in Muhlenberg Township.