MONTE VISTA — The Proud Military Parents and Supporters group of the San Luis Valley is asking for donations for care packages for the coming holiday season.
Founder of the group and President Kelly Avila said, “This is the first time some of these children will be away from home for the holidays. We would like to send out packages to these children to show them that we care.”
The Proud Military Parents and Supporters group was founded in 2019. Avila said that the idea for the group came as her son was leaving for basic training from Canon City. Representatives from Canon City sent care packages with the new enlistees the day that they left. Her daughter joined the National Guard.
Instead of sending something with the military bound recruits the day they leave, the Proud Military Parents group sends its packages during the holidays.
"Waiting to send out these packages is also a way for us to get the community involved. We have had the police department involved and the fire department involved, and other community members get involved as well," said Avila.
The group raises funds and takes donations to help send Christmas care packages to local military members who are presently serving. The group also holds sendoff ceremonies for local people who are leaving home after enlisting in a U.S. military branch.
At a Monte Vista City Council meeting on Oct. 6, the group asked the council to sponsor the care packages with a donation. Last year, the council donated $1,000 to the group. This year, the group was also given $1,000 to help with the care packages.
Group member Michelle Velasquez spoke about what it was like having a child in the military.
"My son is in the Navy. I actually didn't find out about the group until right after Christian left, but I am definitely a supportive parent,” Velasquez said. “I found out about the group and thought it was a neat idea. I have traveled many miles to see my son Christian when we are able to see him. I have also participated in a few send-offs for other children. If we know when the children are going to leave, we can give them a send-off ceremony. We try to put together a package before they leave with a little bit of money and other things that they may need.”
Velasquez said the group provides support to parents, too.
“It's honestly a support group, too, we can call each other and talk to each other about our children. I am not going to lie, it's tough being a military parent, but we are there for our kids, and being a part of this group helps a lot, too," she said.
The Proud Military Parents group accepts money and individually packaged items — like snacks, toiletries, writing utensils, and hygiene. The goal of the group is to send the children many of the comforts of home that they do not have where they are currently stationed.
The group is accepting donations through Oct. 28. The care packages will be boxed on Nov. 5, and sent out the first part of November. The group is also willing to pick up items. For more information, visit their Facebook page or call 719-580-6280.