Nonprofit collects business wear for local soldiers transitioning out of military
BY WILLIAM J. DAGENDESH (4-3-2019)
Citizens peruse a rack of business attire at the annual Suits for Troops Drive, scheduled for April 28 at the American Legion Post, 3613 Jeannine Drive.
Photo by William J. Dagendesh
If your latest looks are more Colorado casual than fashion fast, it might be time to donate your unused suits to local military members.
The Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers will hold its annual Suits for Troops Drive from 1-4 p.m. April 28 at the American Legion Auxiliary Post 209, 3613 Jeannine Drive.
The drive exists to collect unworn business clothing for active duty service men and women exiting the military who can’t afford to buy new business or job interview attire for civilian employment.Through this endeavor, the Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers supports local moms whose children are serving the U.S. military and are preparing to transition to civilian life.
Garments of every fabric will be accepted. Men’s black, brown and gray slacks, sports jackets and suits, and neckties of every color and design are welcome. Residents also may donate women’s short sleeve pastel prints, white blouses, black jackets and skirts, and blue and white-striped long sleeve shirts. Casual wear will not be accepted.
Donors are encouraged to place garments in a clean dry cleaner bag with the garment size clearly marked on the outside of the bag. This makes for easier sorting and aids the Blue Star Mothers with ensuring that troops receive clean items. “We ask the community to donate only what someone would wear to a job interview,” said Blue Star Mothers representative Barbara Pagano.
Established in 2009, the Blue Star Mothers, a local nonprofit, hosts the Suits for Troops Drive two to three times annually. Through this project, the Blue Star Mothers group supports about 400 service men and women who each month separate from active duty in the Pikes Peak region. “We continue to support Fort Carson’s Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program with this event,” Pagano said.
Women to wish to join the group should be mothers of active duty or honorably discharged military of all service branches, Pagano said. “The Blue Star Mothers is growing slowly. We have about four new members and recently a member joined who is also associated with the Daughters of the American Revolution,” Pagano said.
That member, Judy Hoe, sought the support of other mothers when her son enlisted in the Army. Hoe said she knew there would be days when she would seek the support of other moms whose children had left home and deployed.
“I have great friends who have supported me through thick and thin throughout my life,” Hoe said, “but being the mom of somebody in the military is entirely different than most of my friends have experienced.”
Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers partners with the American Legion Centennial Post and ALAP 209 to collect new and used men’s and women’s business attire. “They (ALAP 209) have been faithful and devoted partners and have the space to briefly store donations,” Pagano said.
The group also marches in Veteran’s Day parades, prepares and mails care packages to deployed units and greets deploying military boarding transports. The Blue Star Mothers meet from 2-4 p.m. the first Sunday of the month at the Colorado Springs Police Department, 7850 Goddard St., to discuss business and plan support activities.
YOUR NEIGHBOR - Barbara Pagano (3-20-2019)
BY WILLIAM J. DAGENDESH & Photo by William J Dagendesh
The Woodmen Edition this week spoke with Barbara Pagano, chapter secretary/coordinator of the annual Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers-sponsored “Suits for Troops” Drive. Pagano was delighted to discuss her involvement and offered the following comments:
Where were you born?
I was born and raised in New York City.
What brought you to Colorado Springs?
I’m a military wife and my husband was assigned to Peterson Air Force Base. After he retired we decided to stay in the Springs and have made it our home.
What do you like about Colorado Springs?
We’ve lived in other parts of the country and Colorado Springs offered us the best education for the children and quality of life.
What is the Blue Star Mothers?
The BSM began in 1942 during World War II. Mothers of soldiers met, shared common interests and concerns, and performed various service projects. Interest in the group resurged after the 9/11 attack.
How did you come to serve with the group?
A friend told me the local chapter was being organized. I had two sons deployed at the time. I attended the first meeting in 2009 and realized this was a good group of women. Some of us have a military background, others do not, and we help each other learn the ins and outs of military life.
What are your responsibilities?
We collect gently-used business attire for men and women. Over 400 military exit active service each month, and suits are appreciated.
What do you like about your job?
I appreciate the time and effort our chapter members put into working before and the day of the drive.We love meeting the people who want to give something to the military. We hear people say they’re proud to give their suits because a military member will wear it.
What other projects does the Blue Star Mothers support?
We support Gold Star Mothers (who lost a child), participate in Veteran’s Day parades, lay wreaths at cemeteries and are ready to respond to emergency situations for families of deployed troops.
What challenges are you facing?
We see a dwindling of interest. There are military moms who would benefit and enjoy the company of other moms.
How can people help the group better serve the community?
Tell friends or co-workers about the suit drive. When you see troops at fast food restaurants, thank them for their service.
Suits for Troops: 1/8/2017
Members of our local chapter were interviewed for the December 21, 2016 issue of the Woodmen Edition: the article addressed our support to each other and our community activities, with emphasis on the upcoming Suits for Troops on January 8th.
Fort Carson Mountain Mover: 12/2016
Our local chapter was recognized as a Fort Carson Mountain Mover in December 2016 for our previous Suits 4 Troops campaigns.
Suits for Troops: 8/2/2015
Our Chapter President, Terri Rocha, was interviewed with Eric Singer for Gazette's Friday Military Salute on 7/24/3015
Congressional Record - US Representative Scott Tipton, 12/7/2011
On December 7, 2011, Honorable Scott Tipton of Colorado paid tribute to and recognized Blue Star Mothers of America and its more than 225 local chapters across the country in order to thank these patriotic women form their commitment to serving the needs of America's military community.
Story by Brittney Hopper
Fox21 News 10/4/2009
Colorado Springs, CO -- Mothers who have a child serving in the military know first-hand how difficult the possibility of their child never returning is. And that's where Blue Star Moms come in.
Blue Star Moms meet once a month for two hours to talk about anything. They talk about the first day their child becomes a soldier to finding out that soldier is being deployed to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.
These moms told FOX21 News they understand each other better than anyone else since they're going through the same struggles every day. You know I have friends and they just don't understand. But all these ladies in this room understand what I"m going through" said Carol Dial, Blue Star Mom.
Blue Star Moms also come up with ways to give back to the military by sending care packages and letters, and they help veterans who are readjusting to life after the military.
There are a lot of strong military parents in Colorado and we reach out to them and say, "Don't be alone, don't worry about your child without having someone else. We are here to help you," said Tari Cofield, Blue Star Mom. For more information on how you can become a member of Blue Star Mothers of America, log onto the Colorado chapter's Web site.
Military moms support troops and each other
Story by Jeannette Hynes
You may have seen the flag with the blue star and red border hanging from your neighbor's window. Inside that home is a mom or a family with a loved one serving in the military away from home. Sometimes, that loved one has died in combat.
Military moms in Colorado Springs decided it was time to get organized to help each other and their children serving overseas. In March, they started a chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America.
"We need to remind our community that they're out there. They're still out there, and that we care," says Carol Dial, mother of a 19-year-old son who is a Navy medic stationed in Japan.
"Right now, my kids are safe. I have two in the Army, but everybody else's aren't, so we can be strong at different times for one another," says Tari Cofield.
They share their experiences about how often they hear, or don't hear, from their children. They share news of grandchildren on the way, or a recent engagement. They also listen.
"Only a military mom knows how a military mom feels," says Dial.
The national nonprofit organization has been around since World War II, when those left behind during wartime were placed into service in hospitals, homeland security, and putting together care packages. Today, the organization has grown, and the mission remains the same: to be a service organization supporting each other and their children while promoting patriotism.
So far, this group has sent 50 care packages to troops serving in the Middle East, all with the help of community donations.
The Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers group meets the first Sunday of each month at the Panera Bread on Powers Boulevard at 2 p.m.
Blue Star Mothers introduce chapter
March 27, 2009 - 11:38pm
The first meeting of the newly formed Colorado Springs chapter of Blue Star Mothers will be held 2 p.m. April 5 at the Panera Bread on Powers Boulevard.
The group, which dates nationally back to 1942, "provides support for active duty service personnel, promotes patriotism, assists Veterans organizations, and (is) available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts to help our country remain strong."
Only mothers of active- duty military personnel or of honorably discharged veterans can hold office in the group, but everyone is welcome to attend meetings.