By Greg Ellison
(Oct. 24, 2019) Approaching the final week of Star Charities annual “Holiday Gifts for Soldiers” collection, volunteers are shell shocked by the deluge of donations continuing to pour in, with the groundswell directly attributable to the passing of group co-founder Anna Foultz last month.
Star Charities volunteer Sue Walter, who along with Barb Peletier worked closely with Foultz on numerous charitable initiatives, said with the donation deadline coming into focus the group will sponsor a drive for supplies at the Ocean Pines Food Lion on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“People are really willing to help and donate this year … it’s overwhelming,” she said.
On Saturday, Walter will be among a contingent of volunteers soliciting a wide-array of non-perishable items for U.S. Armed Forces members stationed overseas.
“We’ve got little handouts to give customers [so] they have a list [of items] they could purchase at the Food Lion,” she said.
In contrast to last years’ collection, Walter envisions overwhelming National Guard members when they arrive to collect donations next month.
“Last year it was rather embarrassing when the National Guard came to pick the donations up but this year … they are going to be in for a huge surprise,” she said.
With oversize buckets emblazed with Foultz’s smiling face spread throughout Ocean Pines, along with locations in Berlin and Ocean City, Walter said numerous pickups have been required.
“We’ve had to go back and unload some of the buckets already,” she said. “Barbara has stuff at her house, I have stuff at my house, and we just picked up a couple of buckets full from the community center.”
Besides a significant number of donations at the Ocean Pines library, Walter said a number of local nonprofits are involved, such as Ocean Pines AARP Chapter 4507 and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines and Ocean City.
“The Sons of Italy are really pushing this through their members,” she said.
The ever-growing mound of non-perishable items runs the gamut from clothing to nourishment.
“I’m looking here at bags of hard candy, huge packages of toothpaste, fruit and nut trail mix boxes, all kinds of powders, packages of socks, books and games,” she said. “Everything we’ve been asking for I think have been touched on.”
The end totals, already bolstered through the kindness of individuals likely doubly motivated in mourning for Foultz, will be further inflated by donations gathered by charitable entities, such as the Sons of Italy.
“They’re doing an amazing job [but] their stuff won’t be totally collected until the first week in November,” she said. “They’re taking a little more time to gather.”
Introduced to the organization as a youth by her father, Foultz was honored by the Sons of Italy Ocean City Lodge #2747 in 2014 with its first ever Distinguished Citizen award and two years later attended a gala celebration in Hunt Valley to receive the 2016 Ameritan Award from the Order Sons of Italy in America.
Looking ahead, Walter said Star Charities volunteers and cohorts of Foultz, have yet to fully ponder future endeavors, but one point has been decided.
“It will not be Star Charities and we were told that by the [Foultz] family,” she said. “It was started by Anna and her husband, Carl.”
Star Charities was originally founded in 2007 by Foultz and her husband of 64 years, Carl, who died in 2010.
In fact, Walter said with Foultz passing on Sept. 22, mere days prior to the holiday gift collection drive launching, Star Charities members have yet to convene in mass.
“This drive for the military right now this has taken priority and we haven’t even sat down as a group,” she said. “We’re keeping in contact with our volunteers and bringing them up to date.”
The bulk of Star Charities volunteers will gather together for the first time since Foultz passed this Thursday afternoon for a ceremony to rededicate the Marlin Room inside the Ocean Pines community center in her honor.
Although the Star Charities designation will be put to rest with Anna and Carl Foultz, in light of what promises to be a record-setting haul this year, Walter said hope remains the annual holiday drive for U.S. military stationed overseas would soldier forward.
“If nothing else is done we’ve talked about the possibility of just continuing this military donation drive and doing this each year,” she said. “Maybe in Anna’s memory.”
For more information contact Barb Peletier at 443-896-4914.