The Blue Star Mothers is a charitable corporation that provides an incredible support system for the mothers and families of men and women in active duty. It is a national organization with individually-run chapters throughout the United States, and is constantly expanding its fundraising efforts, support programs, and partner charities.
How the Blue Star Mothers Got Started
The organization has a long history of helping soldiers and their families; it was founded in the early months of 1942 by a group of women who wanted to take an active role in the war effort. They printed a coupon in a newspaper advertising their new group and ended up receiving close to 1,000 enthusiastic responses from women whose sons were going off to war. There were 300 women at their first meeting in Michigan. By 1960 they had been granted a charter with Congress, meaning they were an official sponsored charity group. Now there are groups all across the continental United States, including California; there has been a group in San Diego since 2005 and it’s been growing steadily in numbers since.
A Chat With a Local Blue Star Mother
The La Jolla Blue Book had the pleasure of speaking with Loretta Cook, the President of the San Diego/North County Blue Star Mothers chapter, to get an inside look at the organization. Loretta currently has two sons in the military; her older son, Eric, entered the Reserves in 2001, and Daniel entered the military in 2009.
They didn’t always know they wanted to join – at her younger son’s college graduation ceremonies, there was a man selling Blue Star Mothers banners and service flags and handing out pamphlets of information. Loretta, knowing her sons were heading off to the military themselves, went home and did some research. She became an active member just a few weeks later in 2010 and has been involved ever since. As a single mom, Blue Star Mothers is that much more important to Loretta and her family; it provides an incredible support system and a group of people who are all experiencing the same thing – loved ones who are on the other side of the world putting their lives on the line.
Fundraising Efforts in San Diego
Recently, the Mothers have been working with the VA Hospital right here in La Jolla – they’ve been putting together small gift bags for the patients with things like pajamas, magazines, toothbrushes, and soap. “Just a little something to make them feel more at home” Loretta said, “especially those who don’t have a lot of family or friends visiting.” Loretta has also worked closely with the Fisher House of San Diego (which provides military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury), donating canvases and other materials for local artists to paint or draw on and spice up the walls.
The Blue Star Mothers have also been involved with raising money for Honor Flight of San Diego, which is a program that flies World War II veterans out to the war memorial in Washington, DC at no cost. This is an extremely memorable and healing experience for heroes of war, and provides an opportunity these veterans may not have otherwise received. Other support programs include creating care packages, writing letters, and making/sending cards to veterans in conjunction with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. The BSM’s main fundraiser is their Annual Banquet in Miramar; every September, members or representatives from all chapters come together to raise money for the entire organization.
Quilts of Valor is a wartime effort that the Mothers are also involved in; participants hand-sew quilts to be sent off to soldiers who are currently overseas or on deployment. Its main goal is comfort and aesthetic – creating beautiful mementos that recipients can use on a daily basis and serves as a small reminder of home. The cause was started by Catherine Roberts in 2003 when her son was deployed to Iraq for a yearlong tour. Since then, it has become a national grassroots community service effort that connects the home front with wounded combat warriors and veterans.
With so many activities and sponsored programs, the Blue Star Mothers have truly taken an active and vital role in providing support for the families of American troops. Find out how you, too, can get involved and visit their website at sdncbluestarmothers.org.
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