Q1-2018 packing day recap

Twenty-four Q1-2018 packing volunteers pose by mail truck.
Above: The 24 packing volunteers gather for a celebratory photo after assembling 191 boxes, February 11, 2018.

My mom and I had never taken part in a MWDTSA packing day before volunteering to coordinate the Q1-2018 event. We had seen pictures and read others’ Kennel Talk articles, so we had some notion of the steps involved. But there’s a big difference between head knowledge and how the journey feels. It was deeply satisfying to watch a mail truck full of care packages drive off into the sunset.

Gearing up

When we started planning 10 months ago, it felt as if we had plenty of time. We reached out to potential donors with letters, emails, and phone calls, asking them if they’d join us in our mission of supporting military working dog teams deployed in conflict zones overseas. For every 10 contacts we made, a company stepped forward with a generous donation. Every one of these “yes” responses filled us with optimism that carried us through moments of doubt.

We often experienced radio silence from the other nine organizations, punctuated with an occasional form letter. “Thank you for contacting us. We receive many donation requests from worthy organizations and only have funds to support a few. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a donation at this time, but we wish you every best in your mission.”

We focused gratefully on the one “yes” instead of the nine who didn’t respond or said no. Over 70 individual and corporate donors stepped forward with enough donated products to fill 200 USPS 12” x 12” x 5” flat-rate boxes.

Staging

As products began arriving, we set aside space in our house to store the cartons. One column of boxes quickly became two, then three, then… Suddenly, we had 40 cases of dog toys, dog treats, and handler snacks stacked in the living room, hallway, and basement. And we knew these 40 cases would grow to nearly 100 by packing day.

Two days before the Q1-2018 packing event, we had a total of 91 cartons stored at the Louisville (CO) Police Department (everything at the edge of the training mat, and all boxes along the right wall).

Our house looked as if we had just moved in and hadn’t unpacked…or were preparing to move out. My dad likes order, and I could tell this growing accumulation of boxes was on his mind. The boxes even crept into my mom’s dreams, her subconscious pondering the unthinkable. What if there’s a flood? Fire. Robbery. Mice. Should we get extra insurance?

As packing day grew closer, we started to think through the logistics of getting all these cartons to our packing location. How many trips would it take? That’s when we experienced one of many sweet surprises in this packing journey.

Through happenstance, we learned the Louisville (CO) Police Department had recently used its training room to prepare holiday gifts for low-income families. So, we reached out to ask if they might be willing to let us pack in that space. They not only said yes; they also offered storage space for our growing mountain of boxes, starting nearly a month before our packing event. We were able to move everything out of our house and reclaim the living room (mostly).

Packing day

As we approached our February 11 packing event, it felt as if we had a thousand details and loose ends to consider. Count, re-count. Make checklists so we wouldn’t forget important tasks. Contact packing team members with time, location, and logistical information. Breathe deeply.

This photo shows two volunteers preparing for the packing event.
Krystal Rineck (Store Manager, Chuck and Don’s, Longmont, Colorado) and MWDTSA volunteer Anna Steere prepare for arrival of the packing team. Krystal draws diagrams of the packing sequence for volunteers to use as a reference.

Chuck & Don’s Pet Food and Supplies, Longmont, Colorado, volunteered their entire staff to help on packing day. They did this as a company team-building event. Store Manager Krystal Rineck and Manager Mark Saltzman arrived 1.5 hours early to help with set-up. This included arranging tables, deciding the packing sequence, and moving product into position.

When the rest of the packers arrived, Krystal and Mark organized everyone. The group began assembling care packages at 3:00 p.m. and we finished 191 boxes before 5:00 p.m. It took us another 30 minutes to breakdown cartons for recycling.

Packing these boxes was an amazing experience and a way to say thanks to MWD teams for the sacrifices they make to keep our nation safe. It was exhilarating to be part of this team effort, and we’re ready to sign up again!

For more information on how you can support military working dog teams, visit https://mwdtsa.org/.

This image shows the packing team working in the style of an assembly line.
Volunteer packers worked at “stations” along an “assembly line.” Participants added one or more products to each box, then passed the boxes to the next station.
The Niwot, Colorado Postmaster and the young son of a Louisville Post Office employee wheel dollies full of care packages into an elevator on their way to the mail truck.
Three adults and two children from United States Postal Service helped at the end of our packing line, attaching customs forms and taking boxes directly to a mail truck. On a Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Anna Steere and Leigh Steere

Align Orthodontics patients raise $926.50 for MWDTSA

This photo shows the Align Orthodontics staff, including Dr. Colletti, along with wooden moose mascot Justin Timbertooth and guest RMWD Falco.

For over six months, the kids at Align Orthodontics donated their prized wooden nickels to MWDTSA. The tally is in, and these Colorado kids rock! Their $926.50 contribution helped fund MWDTSA’s Q1-2018 care packages. With this money, we purchased toothpaste for the dogs and Cocomel candies for the handlers.

Wearing rubber bands, head gear or retainer as prescribed?

Align’s wooden nickel program promotes good oral hygiene and compliance with orthodontic instructions. At each visit, patients earn nickels based on how well they’ve cared for their teeth and braces. With 20 nickels, patients can “shop” at an Align “store” that offers Lego sets, gift cards, and other coveted merchandise.

Many patients, however, chose to deposit their nickels in an MWDTSA donation jar at the front desk. For each of the 1,853 wooden nickels contributed by patients, Align Orthodontics provided 50 cents toward our Q1 2018 care packages! To put the kids’ sacrifice in perspective, their nickels could have purchased 92 Lego sets at the Align store.

The Meltzer family represented Align Orthodontics patient families at MWDTSA’s Q1-2018 packing event, February 11, 2018. Meltzer relatives served in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. “Helping MWDTSA lets us give back to the men, women, and four-legged heroes that protect our country,” says Michele Meltzer. (Photo courtesy of Meltzer family)

Additionally, a patient’s family stepped forward to volunteer countless hours to help MWDTSA with pre-packing activities. The Meltzer’s neatly folded 200 t-shirts and placed items that might leak into Ziploc bags. They and Align associate Megan Lentfer joined the packing team to assemble nearly 200 boxes on Sunday, February 11.

Align Orthodontics military ties

Align Orthodontics has a deep reverence for the military and the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women. Dr. Laurence Colletti, owner of the practice, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1975. As a USAFA cadet, he was interested in dentistry AND being a pilot. However, the Air Force was not sending any graduates to dental school. So, he had to decide between staying in the Air Force and becoming a pilot, or pursuing dental school on his own. Taking this decision very seriously, he decided to play himself in a game of racquetball. Becoming a pilot won. During active duty, he flew as a T-38/KC 135 Pilot and Wing Flight Safety Officer and really enjoyed his time in the sky. “Where else in the world,” he asks, “can a 21-year-old be trusted with a multi-million dollar piece of equipment?”

After 6 years of flying, however, the dental desire returned. He decided to enter the Army Reserves as a Medical and Dental Officer so he could start dental school as a civilian. In this capacity, he was activated for Desert Storm. Altogether, he served in the military for 20.5 years before retiring.

Dr. Colletti isn’t the only person at Align with military connections. Orthodontic Assistant Sylvia Cage’s daughter served four years and son-in-law served 20 years in the Air Force. Megan Lentfer’s sister and brother-in-law are active duty Navy. Her cousin is an active duty Marine.

Many thanks to Align Orthodontics for your enthusiastic support. It’s donors like you and your patients who make our quarterly care packages possible, and we really appreciate you!

Is your group interested in raising money for MWDTSA care packages? To learn more about MWDTSA’s needs, contact Nikki Rohrig at president@MWDTSA.org or visit https://mwdtsa.org/.

Photo credit: Shelli Patty. Align Orthodontics office staff with RMWD Falco. From left to right, bottom row: Dr. Laurence Colletti, moose mascot Justin Timbertooth, Sylvia Cage; top row: Amanda Evans, Megan Lentfer. Not pictured: Laurie Hoff.

 

Packing commences for Q1-2018

Handsome German Shepherd police dog models "Dogs with Altitude" bandana and poses next to care package contents. Photo by David Schlatter Photography, Superior, Colorado.

It’s packing week. On Sunday, February 11, MWDTSA volunteers and donors will assemble almost 200 care packages. Each box will provide essentials and treats for U.S. military working dog teams in conflict zones around the world.

For each quarter, MWDTSA selects a packing coordinator and location. The extensive preparation process begins 10 or more months in advance of each mailing date.

The packing coordinator…

  • Identifies a theme for the quarter.
  • Selects products to include in the care packages.
  • Solicits donations from manufacturers, retailers, and veterinary clinics.
  • Organizes fundraisers to collect products and postage.
  • Identifies a venue for care package assembly.
  • Selects a packing team.
  • Delegates pre-pack activities such as sealing liquids in sandwich bags.
  • Works with the local post office to arrange pickup of the finished boxes.

Adrenaline flows in the days leading up to the care package assembly. Will products arrive in time? We double check quantities, food expiration dates, and more.

Stay tuned for photos of our Q-1 assembly day. We feel honored to be able to support both ends of the leash with these boxes.

Visit https://mwdtsa.org/donate/ to learn how you can help with future care packages. We appreciate your support!

Many thanks to David Schlatter for his amazing photos of K-9 Kingston and MWDTSA’s Q1-2018 care package.

 

Attention dog lovers: $10,000 grant at stake

Photo of military working dog with flower

In honor of your favorite dog, you can help MWDTSA win a $10,000 grant. We just need your vote. Once a day, every day, between now and the end of the contest.

Sugarlands Distilling Co. in Gatlinburg, Tennessee will be giving away six grants to nonprofits, and we’re in the running. Here’s the way it works:

  • Please visit moonshare.org every 24 hours. Voting resets each night at midnight.
  • Click on our MWDTSA logo and scroll down to the bottom of the page to enter your e-mail address and cast your vote.
  • Bookmark the URL and set a reminder to visit every day until the end of the month.

To get to round #2, we need your help!

The competition started with 48 nonprofits vying for the six grants. On January 10, Sugarlands cut the field in half, based on the number of votes each organization had received. We made that cut!

On January 20, they will again cut the field in half, and we hope to be one of the 12 remaining contenders.

Voting will continue until the end of the month, when Sugarlands will announce the six winners.

What the grant means for MWDTSA

As you know, we send nearly 200 care packages per quarter to military working dog teams deployed in conflict zones overseas. Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines. Coast Guard. In 2017 alone, we spent over $12,000 on postage to ship these boxes. The Moonshare grant would cover more than 80 percent of our anticipated 2018 postage bill. That would be a huge blessing!

Please share this post with your family and friends. Our diligent military working dog teams will appreciate your support! Best of all, it costs nothing to vote, except a few seconds of your time each day. Thanks for your help!

To learn more about MWDTSA, visit https://mwdtsa.org/.

Co-written with Nikki Rohrig, President, MWDTSA

Photo credit: Rachel Longo

KONGs for K9s Offers Opportunity for Individuals to Give an Item that Keeps Giving

An assortment of red and black KONG toys
Hatos balancing a KONG on his head
Hatos’ balancing act!

MWDTSA created our KONGs for K9s event about 6 or 7 years ago as a way to reach supporters across the country and to round up quality KONG products for Military Working Dogs.

The program is simple, donors make a donation of a requested KONG product at one of our partner stores. At the end of the event, the KONGs will be gathered, counted and matched by another KONG Classic by the KONG company,

This event has been a win-win-win for various reasons. It allows MWDTSA to get quality toys donated without having to spend our precious funding. It allows small pet business partners a way to bring to their customers a method to support military working dogs in a very tangible way.

These stores are accepting donations through the end of October.

Leash On Life

Ms. Julie Phye
432 Highway 1 W
Iowa City, Iowa 52246
leashonlife.net
319-354-4334

Lucky Duck Pet Stuff

Ms. Carla Wynn
3723 E. Chesapeake Beach Road (Rt. 260)
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland 20723
http://luckyduckpetstuff.com
410-257-5080

Ma and Paw’s Bakery

Ms. Diane Sanders
1227 East 3300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
http://www.maandpawsbakeryinc.com
801-487-3838

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
http://www.topdogs.net
2615 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30114
770-218-0602

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
900 Mansell Road Suite 13
Roswell, GA 30076
770-641-8620

Personal Beast

Ms. Jett Wyatt
8119 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97215
http://personalbeast.biz/
503- 445-9449

Veterans United Craft Brewery

8999 Western Way #104
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
sgamble@vubrew.com
www.vubrew.com

The four California stores will be accepting donations through the end of November.

Pet Suites

19 Journey
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
http://www.petsuites.com/
949- 425-0700

Three locations of The Animal Keeper:

The Animal Keeper

155 Saxony Road
Encinitas, CA
http://theanimalkeeper.com/
Tel: (760) 753-9366

3532 College Blvd
Oceanside, CA 92056
Tel: 760- 941-3221

12280 Oak Knoll Road
Poway, CA 92064
Tel: (858) 748-9676

It’s A KONG Thing

Hatos balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of our great partners in our KONGs for K9s events, we received matching KONGs today. In fact, so many were matched at one time, that we were asked to have them delivered to a store, because they were going to ship via a pallet. Stepping in to accept the donation on our behalf were local owners of TC Country, Fabio and Sabine Yepes.

KONG toys are a favorite of Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and handlers. The bounce, texture and toughness makes them a perfect toy for a very motivated dog; a great reward for hard work put in by our MWDs.

Once delivered, we received the call from Fabio and Sabine so we rushed up to accept the boxes that arrived and stopped for a moment to take some photos. Inspired by one of our favorite MWD photos, Hatos balancing a KONG on his head, Fabio learned to do the same trick.

Apparently, you can teach an old dog a new trick, as demonstrated by our friend below.

Balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of MWDTSA’s KONGs for K9s partners, the KONG Company matched us one for one.

KONGs in a box

The shipment should last a few months! At least through our next round of care packages.

An assortment of red and black KONG toys

We are appreciative of the hundreds of supporters whose purchase of one KONG at a time allowed us this amazing donation from the KONG Company.

Sorting through KONGs in boxes

62nd Combat Trackers from Vietnam Serve the Dog Handlers of Today

For many years, I have implored dog handlers to stay connected with their K9 friends and their unit, a task made much easier in the age of Facebook and the internet.  I say this because of all of the dog handlers from Vietnam who, in an age of snail mail and no internet, more easily lost touch and couldn’t easily reconnect with friends from their days of service.

Some of them have tried mightily to find others who shared their burdens and shared their sacrifices.  While I can never understand the emotions and the depths of these friendships, I do recognize a commitment to each other and a devotion to duty that still remains even 45-50 years later.

They are also committed to this country and to supporting current dog handlers.  Our 2nd VP and our Webmaster are both Vietnam veterans.  They would hard and do simply remarkable things with little resources.

Our 4th Quarter care packages were designed to recognize and honor this generational support with the theme of “Two Generations- One Cause.”  The boxes were packed in Louisiana at an annual Veterans’ Day reunion and include our 2014 calendar which honors both generations.  We also have donations that were made possible by Vietnam veterans at various companies.  And, on top of all of this the 62nd Combat Trackers and their loving and devoted wives spent time together to make this 4th Quarter Care Package possible.  Thanks to all of them.

photo 3 a

Savannah and the 62nd reunion 155 a
The last photo was taken in June of 2012 at a 62nd IPCT reunion in Savannah, GA. Everyone enjoyed the trip to visit the base and the handlers at Fort Stewart.

Thanks to Burt’s Bees

Thanks to Burt’s Bees, we got some wonderful donations of In Kind products to include in our 2nd Quarter Care Packages. Natural Toothpaste and Tips and Toes Kits, with special collections of wonderful skin care lotions and salves. Who doesn’t love natural?

Burts Bees 2

Please check this great company out at www.burtsbees.com

We included the Burt’s Bees products into a larger bag that we laughingly called the “Hoof and Mouth” bag because it contained many personal care products for dental care and foot care.

Burts Bees 3

Thanks to one of the recipients of the “Hoof and Mouth” bag who photographed her Burt’s Bees items on top of the bag.

Please check out these great donations from RUFFWEAR

DSC_9825If you work long hard hours with your dog on jagged rocks or blistering pavement, you are going to need some quality boots.  We are pleased to share with you that we have received a donation of 15 pairs of these superb boots from the Ruffwear Company.   We have been promised photos of some of the recipients in the boots and will be sure to post them as soon as we receive them.

In the meantime, please check out these awesome boots at ruffwear.com  and be sure to stop by and voice your support for a great company giving back to America’s military working dogs.

Thank you Ruffwear!  We appreciate your donation and we know the handlers will appreciate it too, as they asked for you by name!

OOIDA Supports our dog handlers

MWDTSA is proud to partner with OOIDA:  Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association – an association of truck drivers to help round up addresses for their fabulous care packages.  We generally send addresses of handlers who will be deployed for a year and who have additional dog handlers with whom they can share the generous contents of these great packages.

We were first connected with OOIDA via a Vietnam era Combat Tracker dog handler, Bill Casey, from Ohio.  Bill is a member of OOIDA   When Jeanne Dedrick joined the board, she and her husband were also members.  We love truck drivers and OOIDA as they are both a generous and patriotic group.

This organization took on the cause of dogs, in addition to supporting all troops.  Above is one of the care packages they put together to send to some of the kennels down range.

Below are packages received by some of the handlers.

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From the photos, we think the dogs would join OOIDA…. if they could only drive truck….darn those missing opposable thumbs…LOL

Thanks to OOIDA for sending this important support.  Please stop by their website and say thanks:  http://ooida.com/.  And, thanks, Adam for the great photos.