Garfield Employee Helps US Troops Overseas

Cindy Garcia

Every year the Christmas spirit fills people’s minds and hearts with the philosophy of giving. They buy Christmas gifts for their family, their friends and maybe for their secret Santa, but for Marie Bartholomew, the philosophy of giving is not limited to her loved ones and not even only to the holidays.

Bartholomew is an administrative assistant in the ESL department at the Garfield Campus who sends gift boxes throughout the year to the troops overseas.

“I do it all year long,” said Bartholomew. “This is not a seasonal thing and I don’t stop just because the holidays are over.”

She sends a little bit of everything that can be helpful to the soldiers overseas, from personal care products such as shampoos, shaving cream, wipes, tampons and deodorants to microwaveable food and miscellaneous objects like blankets, new and used books, magazines and DVDs.

Bartholomew started supporting the troops about four to five years ago after someone recommended to her the Web site, where she finds the addresses and names of the soldiers who are overseas.

She ships the boxes through the United States Postal Service, which “fortunately” has flat-rate boxes, she said. The average shipping cost for a medium-to-large box is about $10 and she expects to send about a 100 boxes this holiday season.

Bartholomew feels compassion and a strong connection with the soldiers since she once was in a similar situation and knows how hard it is to be away from her loved ones.

“I used to be a military wife once upon a time during the Vietnam era and I know what it’s like when a love is gone, and it was really hard,” said Bartholomew. “You are a new bride and the next thing you know is that your husband has orders to leave.”

Her support is truly appreciated by the soldiers, including one who sent Bartholomew a message on Facebook:

“Those gifts have meant more than any of the material goods that you have ever given me. Your gifts … boosted my morale and reminded me that what I do matter to a lot of people back in the States.”

Bartholomew said she also gets more than letters. “One of them even sent me flowers for my birthday,” she said. “It was very impressive.”

She doesn’t consider herself a “Facebook person,” but said she appreciates the fact that they take the time to write to her with their busy schedule.

Bartholomew strongly believes that it is very important for people to support the troops who are fighting overseas regardless of their feelings about the war.

“Everybody just thinks about the political issue and it does not make any difference whether you think it’s right or wrong . you have to respect the fact that these individuals signed up and made a commitment,” she said. “I choose to support the military more than anything else because of the fact that I respect their commitment to the United States.”

Bartholomew also said that people must be aware that soldiers are normal people. “They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts,” she said, but most importantly, “They are someone’s family.”

She usually receives donations from other teachers and people she knows, but because of the economic crisis, the donations have decreased and she has had to pay for mostly everything out of her own pocket.

“It’s rougher now because people don’t have the extra money to do this, but also it’s very hard for [the soldiers] that are overseas and I try to make it a little bit easier for them,” she said. “I feel the need to help someone that really has a need.”

To support the troops with any donation, please contact [email protected]