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Care packages, tires show support for troops

July 17, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

An annual promotion by Goodyear is helping show support for service members.

NASCAR president Mike Helton and dozens of volunteers, including Girls and Boy Scouts, veterans and reservists, put together 5,000 care packages on behalf of Support Our Troops during the race week at Daytona International Raceway.

"When you're camped out in the middle of nowhere and the bad guys are trying to kill you, and you wonder if anyone remembers you're there, it's nice to hear from home," said Martin Boire, chairman of Daytona-based Support Our Troops. "They get a boost when these packages come. It makes them more efficient and in better condition to fight."

Also included in the Goodyear Gives Back campaign kick off, sidewalls on race tires at Daytona and Iowa were emblazoned with a yellow ribbon and "Support Our Troops" slogan.

Goodyear is Support Our Troops' largest corporate donor, having raised $100,000 in the campaign's first year and $300,000 last year, said Kris Kienzl, the company's NASCAR marketing manager. The tire maker expects to break last year's mark with more items being auctioned online and a second care package assembly event set for August at Michigan International Speedway.

"We want to let them know home is still with them," Kienzl said.

The troops appreciate the packages from home.

"Thank you so much for all that you do for us," a staff sergeant from the 133rd Military Police Co. stationed in Matun Hill, Afghanistan, wrote. "The packages are given to soldiers that don't receive packages from home. Then that soldier may put items in our 'free PX' [post exchange] to share with others. So your act of kindness reaches more than the soldier that the package is addressed to."

Goodyear has set up a website, www.goodyear.com/givesback, to accept donations and bid on auctions that include autographed flags and clothing as well as special race-day packages. Fans also can send a message or video for the troops.

The tire manufacturer is accepting donations at its 6,000 stores nationwide and is offering to contribute $1 for each eligible tire sold up to $250,000 through Aug. 31.

'Means a lot over here'

A sampling of comments sent to Support Our Troops from servicemen and servicewomen who received care packages. Full names have been redacted:

"Wanted to say thank you for the wipes you sent! They're awesome & our muscles love you! The nurses were so excited when they saw what they were & our patients will get great use from them!" -- Senior Airman Danielle, 455th Expeditionary Medical Group, based at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

"I can't begin to explain to you all how much this means to me. You guys went above and beyond when you put this package together and it is greatly appreciated. I was able to share some of the things you sent with my office so you put a smile on every face in my office as well. ... What seems small to you means a lot over here and it IS enough and everything you do matters." -- Airman First Class Ashley

"I wanted to say thank you so much for sending out the care package to my airman. She received the box today and she was literally in tears and could not believe that there are people who cared enough to send her a box. She said she felt like it was Christmas or better because she has not had a Christmas since she was younger. It was great seeing her tell everyone who walked in the office about the box." -- Staff Sgt. Leticia

"We are grateful for the gift of candies. The donations that are mailed to us here are distributed out at Jack's Place. Jack's Place is a facility where service members are provided a quiet, wholesome place to talk, study, read or meet other people. Thank you for your thoughtfulness to the personal needs of our troops. The kindness you have shown makes a difference in day-to-day life of our service members." -- Lt. Col. Ronald