Cape Cod Cares For The Troops Still Supporting Soldiers

HYANNIS – Cape Cod Cares for the Troops has been working hard to send care packages and support for soldiers amid a drop in volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization’s yearly Troops in the Spotlight event, alongside several other fundraisers, were cancelled due to the ongoing health crisis.

“It’s been difficult, like it has for everybody, with our big fundraiser being cancelled,” said Michelle DeSilva, co-founder of the organization.

“We’ve lost three fundraisers now that we haven’t been able to do. The biggest one was Troops in the Spotlight, but two others too. But then we have a lot of companies, organizations or people that do smaller fundraisers for us and they have been unable to do those too because of what’s going on with the coronavirus.”

DeSilva said that they have still been able to provide some services despite the pandemic.

“We’re still sending out care packages a little bit slower because we have to wait for the postage to come in, to raise money for that. We did just go to Fort Hood and help 300 soldiers that just came back from a deployment. We were able to do that with some of the churches and people in Houston which was just a great event to be at,” said DeSilva.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult for the organization to get the usual number of volunteers for assembling care packages, leading to some delays in shipping.

“Normally, if we want to put care packages together, I can put it on Facebook and we can come up with 25 to 50 volunteers to help us. Right now, there’s about three of us that are doing care packages. Instead of getting them done in a couple of days, it’s taken us a week or two to do thirty care packages,” said DeSilva.

She also said that many of their donation sites have been shut down during the pandemic, such as police station lobbies, leading to a drop in supplies.

“We’re hoping that when things get a little more settled on the Cape, that people will start being drop off locations for us again and we can get people to start dropping off items,” said DeSilva.

Future fundraisers, such as those scheduled to take place in the fall such as the Canal Run for the Troops or those happening around Christmas time are a concern with the pandemic.

“We’ll still get care packages out, the question now is whether we’ll be able to do the volume that we were doing in the past. We normally do 1,200 to 1,500 in a one day period. That might be a challenge this year,” said DeSilva.

“Our other big programs are to help the Wounded Warriors down in Fort Belvoir and their families. That’s something we’ve always done at Christmas. Last year we helped 52 families,”

DeSilva hopes that the summer will hold more promise for the organization, however noted that it is difficult to ask for donations in the current economic climate.

“It’s really hard to go ask them for help right now under the circumstances. I’m hoping, like everybody else on the Cape, that the Cape has a great July and August, and maybe into the fall and that maybe we can start fundraising campaigns then,” said DeSilva.

“But it’s hard to ask people who are struggling to try and help you, even though we do still have people who are sending us like ten dollars. The hundred dollar checks are now ten dollar checks and we appreciate that because I know that it’s tough to give right now.”

DeSilva said that there may be opportunity to hold virtual events for the fall Canal Run, or other upcoming fundraisers in the season, but she wanted to stay cautious and won’t be afraid to postpone events until next year in order to prioritize safety.

The organization encouraged any veterans that may be in need of food or meals to contact them, which DeSilva said they are still prioritizing. 

“We’re trying to make do, but the most important thing is to keep everybody safe,” said DeSilva.

“But we don’t want to forget the men and women that are deployed for our country because they’re still over there fighting for us no matter what’s going on here at home.”

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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