The Ninth Annual “Bit of Home” event in support of our military troops will be held Saturday, October 12 in Roanoke-Benson High School at 9 a.m. when packaging will take place. Volunteers are welcome.

The Heart of Illinois Blue Star Mothers will be accepting care package items and monetary donations from now until October 12 for our deployed troops serving overseas. Item donations can be made at the drop off locations listed below through October 11. All donations will go towards the contents and shipping of care packages. Packages will arrive before the holidays.

Donation boxes for item drop off can be found at the following locations: Roanoke-Benson High School, Roanoke; Dollar General, Roanoke; So Fit Workout and Wellness, Roanoke; Flanagan State Bank, Benson; AJ’s Lounge, Benson; Minonk Community Bank, Minonk; Dollar General, El Paso; IGA, Eureka; IGA, Metamora; The Coffee Hub, Lacon; and Dollar General, Washington.

Monetary donations can be made payable to “Blue Star Mothers” and mailed to 401 N. Reiter, Benson, IL 61516.

For additional information, to volunteer or add a name to the care package recipient list, please contact Julie Wolf at 309-275-1551.

The following is a list of items that can be donated:

Food and Snack Items:

Gum, Hard Candy, Lifesavers, Mints, etc.

Fruit, individual serving cans –no plastic

Fruit rollups, fruit snacks, dried fruit

Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Trail Mix…  individual packs

Granola Bars, Protein Bars, Rice Krispie Treats

Carnation Instant Breakfast, Instant Oatmeal

Beef jerky (a favorite)

Pringles Chips, Chex Mix... single serving

Cheese or Peanut Butter and cracker combos

Ramen Noodles, Cup-O-Noodles, Cup of Soup Instant Soup

Ready to eat meals...  Dinty Moore, Stew, Ravioli, Spaghetti, pastas (canned or Styrofoam single serve)

Macaroni and Cheese, microwavable single serving cups.

Tuna or chicken salad single lunch kits (no ham or pork)

Small cans of cheese dip and bean dip for crackers

Canned cheese, nacho cheese or bean dip, Salsa/chips

Microwave popcorn (buttered)

Note**Pork and pork by-products are not allowed to be shipped to most Middle East combat locations.  Please use non-perishable foods only.  Single serving package sizes only please.

Beverage Items:

Single serving drink flavor packets, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, On the Go etc. for water bottles

Powdered Gatorade Mix

Instant Coffee, Hot Chocolate Mix, Tea Bags

Note**Liquids cannot be shipped.  Single serving packets are best.  Do not send glass jars.

Personal Care Items:

Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash– travel size

Medicated Foot Powder, Body Powder

Lotrimin or Tinactin for Athletes foot (ointment tubes)

Chapstick, Blistex, Carmex in stick tubes not tubs

Throat lozenges

Baby wipes, Kleenex – travel size

Liquid hand sanitizers, Disposable hand sanitizing wipes- Travel size

Lens Wipes (for cleaning goggles and eye glasses)


Mouthwash, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Dental Floss, Sticks or Brush Ups

Razors, Shaving Cream or Gel – travel size



Lotion, Moisturizer – travel; size

Feminine Hygiene Products for Women

Nail Clippers, Nail files

Hand and Foot Warmers


When soldiers are out in the field, facilities for showering and taking care of personal hygiene are infrequent and non-existent.  Portable sized packages of non-alcohol-based baby wipes can be in high demand.

Foot care is critical and the demand for quality products is very high.  Be sure that all items are in the original sealed packages. 

Toothbrushes are in high demand.  Toothpaste tubes get messy; the plastic “bottles” of toothpaste stand up better to the conditions of combat zones.  The new Brush Ups are very popular and useful.

Clothing Items:

Green Military Boot Socks

Cotton Socks

Note**Fingerless gloves and stocking caps are appreciated during the winter months.

Communication Items:

Small notepads - the size to fit a pocket they can keep dry

Notecards, Envelopes, pens

Recreational Items:

Decks of Cards, Dice, Small hand held games

Hacky Sacks, Silly String

Batteries (all sizes)

Movie DVDs (new or used, original only)

Current Magazines, Paperback Books, Word Puzzle Books

Note**Nothing with religious content will be accepted overseas


Letters or cards of support

Colored pictures from children

Letters and cards of support are always uplifting for our soldiers to receive.  Cards from you, children, your business, office, school, church or other organizations in support of our troops. Colored pictures from children and adults are appreciated.