A group of women who all had children enrolled at Oakville Elementary School at the same time were always very involved in activities at the school. Patricia Mullins was one of those moms. She planned, organized and helped wherever and whenever there was a need. Then came the end of sixth grade and the children were moving on to different schools.
After working together on school projects for several years, these “school” friends formed a Bunco club to keep in touch with each other. With her work at Oakville Elementary School complete, it was not long before Mullins was right back volunteering her time and money, but this time her focus was on sending packages to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her Bunco club is always willing to help out with a donation now and then.
The idea of sending packages to soldiers was new to Mullins. “One day I was listening to the radio and heard of a web site, www.anysoldier.com, that directs people wishing to donate items to soldiers who have listed their specific needs,” Mullins said.
That was all it took to get her started. Reading entry after entry on the site, Mullins discovered that many of the requests were for basic hygiene supplies.
“The thing that impressed me the most was that they are over there risking their lives, and yet, they are going without basic supplies needed for good health and hygiene,” she said.
Mullins collects books, magazines, toiletries, T-shirts, candy and all kinds of items as noted on the “any soldier” web site as being needed or requested by a particular soldier. Scouring stores for bargains and using coupons, she stretches her dollars to their limit. She also donates the postage required to send the items to the troops, which is $12 per box.
“After years of practice, the boxes are so efficiently packed that it would be difficult to add even a sheet of paper to the finished package,” said Mullins’ daughter, Amanda.
Mullins said she has heard back from many of the package recipients. She added that some have no family or anyone with the financial means to send items.
"One soldier said it was just like Christmas when he got the unexpected box of goodies," Mullins said. "Some even correspond long after they receive a package. Once, I even got wedding pictures by email from a soldier who received one of my packages. It’s the least that I can do for the kids serving over there.”
She added: “I’ve even sent dog treats to canine units. They do important work as well.”
When not buying, packing and sending boxes to soldiers, Mullins volunteers for another of her favorite causes, Bosom Buddies, a Susan Koman affiliate. She often volunteers at their walks, trivia nights and other fundraisers.
In addition to her charity work, travel is an important part of Mullins’ life. In her capacity as a manufacturer’s sales representative she travels extensively throughout Illinois and the Midwest. When on vacation, she enjoys going on cruises to faraway places.