Meet Wendy Rocca
Q: Wendy, when we first met, you told me about Operation American Soldier. What is it and what are its goals?
Operation American Soldier began late 2002 when the "War on Terror" was just starting. Tracy, my husband's daughter, was deployed, staging in Kuwait to head into Iraq. She reached out and said the base wasn't set up for so many troops. Supplies were slim! We sent Tracy a big box of everything we could think of!
Weeks later she contacted us and said there were some troops that received no mail or packages from home. We quickly sent a few boxes for Tracy to share. Each had a letter asking if anyone else would like some support. That was the unintentional start of Operation American Soldier (OAS), and we’ve been doing it ever since.
Q: What kind of impact is OAS having?
We’ve shipped tens of thousands of boxes since then. We and our volunteers have received so many wonderful letters and certificates from the troops. Here’s a recent one from Poland:
Dear John and Wendy, Just a note to express our gratitude for the dozens of care packages you have sent our way. We thank you for your labor of love and the service of your family to our country. It would be true to say that service is in your blood, both in and out of uniform. Your packages arrived here in Poznan, Poland this morning and we have distributed some among our soldiers here. The remainder of the packages will make their way to [troops] in other parts of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
We were just asked to support a unit in Lithuania with 1200 troops (including 50 females).
They love individually wrapped snack items such as granola bars, nuts, fruit snacks, candy, chocolate, Slim Jims, beef jerky and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Protein bars are a popular item. Hygiene items go far as well. Things like toothbrushes, floss, soap, shampoo, razors, etc. One thing that is top of the list right now is any kind of sauces to spice up the very bland food. Chick Fil A sauce, or BBQ and hot sauces are awesome. So we will be getting items and packing it up to ship in the coming weeks.
Q: What are your most significant challenges?
Our biggest challenge is postage costs and keeping stocked! It takes truckloads of supplies for each and every shipment. We pack our boxes full with no space left to maximize the cost of postage and product shipped to each individual.
Q: How can people help OAS, or get help from OAS for deployed troops?
We are here to serve! If you know anyone deployed, please register them on our website or call me at 617-504-0532.
We welcome donations of products (listed on our website) and postage help. We are 100% non profit. No one is paid. We do not pay rent or utilities thanks to the Shutt Detachment Marine Corps League on Mt. Auburn Street. This means everything is for the troops.
For more information about OAS visit us at www.OperationAmericanSoldier.org.
Q: What do you do when you are not involved with OAS?
I'm a full time realtor with Keller Williams Boston Northwest, Cambridge & Arlington.
My husband and I love spending time with our grandchildren, family and attending church. We love walking the rail trail. Also, we’ve been enjoying so many wonderful restaurants at AY and around town. Stella’s was always one of our favorites, along with City Works, Condessa’a, and Wild Willies. Our grandson is about to complete Kindergarten at Hosmer!
We have been here in Watertown for 36 years. Watching this area transform – the growth and changes – has been amazing. It’s an exciting time to be involved with the community!