Linda Juliot has always enjoyed sending care packages to her daughter while she serves in the Navy, taking the time to pick out treats and necessities that will remind her of home. But, when the Turlock resident realized that not all of the sailors on her daughter’s ship are lucky enough to receive packages in the mail, she took it upon herself to organize care packages for those deployed on the USS Nimitz.
“Even when my daughter was in boot camp, I would hear stories about sailors that don’t really get much stuff from home. No letters, no gifts or anything,” said Juliot. “There are some moms who are financially strapped and unable to afford these care packages, and some of these kids are from foster homes and don’t have family that can send them something.”
While her daughter was in boot camp, Juliot comforted lonely sailors by organizing letter drives, but she decided to contact the USS Nimitz once her daughter was deployed to find out how she could help do something on a larger scale.
She was told to send care packages to Religious Ministries Support, who would then distribute them to the sailors most in need.
“I decided that I was going to make a goal of trying to send 20 care packages,” said Juliot. “I thought, ‘If I can reach 20 packages, I’m going to be so ecstatic.’”
Juliot was over the moon when local businesses, family members and friends came together to collect enough money and food to produce 31 care packages in just three short weeks. Businesses and local groups donated items and funds for the project, including Turlock’s American Legion and its Commander Wardee “Gunner” Bruce, Allen Mortuary, Blown Away Salon and Spa, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market and Neto’s Catering, who all helped fill each package with toiletries, snacks and even toys.
“We tried to put some fun stuff in there like dollar store toys,” said Juliot. “Something just to brighten their mood for the day and share with their shipmates.”
Juliot hopes that sailors on the ship will be encouraged by the care packages to become involved with their own American Legions in their hometowns, as Turlock’s own was instrumental to the care package project’s success. Its hall was even used to assemble the packages on Sunday afternoon, she added.
“I’m hoping and encouraged it will bring these kids to look up their American Legion wherever their home is and get involved. It’s very important that the American Legion doesn’t ever go extinct, and that we continue on that tradition,” she said. “They treat me like family there and I love them all.”
To be able to give sailors a piece of home who may not have received one otherwise is a good feeling, said Juliot, only amplified by the fact that it’s her own daughter’s shipmates that she’s helping.
“It’s already gone around the ship that somebody from Turlock, they don’t know whose mom it is, but that someone is sending them packages,” said Juliot. “My daughter is lucky enough to have lots of love from home, but it breaks my heart to know that there are sailors out there who on mail day know there’s nothing for them.”
With the success of her first care package drive, Juliot is considering organizing one more before her daughter’s deployment ends in another five to six months. In the meantime, she encourages those who are interested in sending a sailor, or anyone else in the military, a care package to visit www.operationgratitude.com.