Placer County’s Operation: MOM closes after eight years of aiding troops

Folsom Blue Star Moms chapter will now provide care packages to overseas soldiers
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Thousands of “care” packages have been sent to troops serving overseas worldwide and just as many hearts have been warmed. But a void in leadership that won’t be filled has led to the closure of Placer County’s Operation: MOM chapter. Started in 2003, as the nation’s Iraq campaign began, Operation: MOM closed the Placer chapter at the beginning of the year after group leader Pat Ryan stepped down. “Unfortunately we have not been able to fill this position so the chapter is coming to a close,” Ryan said. Ryan said it has been “an honor and a joy” to serve the Placer County community over the past eight years. “The joy and encouragement Placer County Operation: MOM has brought our deployed military and their families is expressed in the many cards and letters we have received over those eight years,” Ryan said. The Operation: MOM effort was started by two friends in the Bay Area who each had a son in the Marine Corps. Bobbi Park organized the Placer County chapter about 1½ years after the Bay Area Operation: MOM was started. Her son was one of the first Marines into Iraq in March 2003 and he also served there in 2004. Park said she saw the two Operation: MOM founders on the TV news and loved the idea. “It was simple and a way to reach out to the troops,” Park said. “The Placer chapter wasn’t just in Placer County. We worked with all sorts of organizations all over the Sacramento region.” Until last April, Operation: MOM held packing nights every month at the Colfax Veterans Memorial Hall. Since then, it had been housed at an Auburn Airport Industrial Park hangar in Auburn. The Rolling Hills Blue Star Moms of Folsom will take over much of the work Operation: Mom has done over the past eight years. Pam Woodward, president of the Rolling Hills Blue Star Moms, said the group also sends care packages to troops year round. Blue Star Moms are named after the blue star symbol they can display as parents of deployed U.S. troops serving overseas. The need for providing letters, snacks and toiletries troops wouldn’t normally receive continues, Woodward said. “While troops are now coming back from Iraq, they’re going to Afghanistan and conflicts in other areas of the world,” Woodward said. Parents of troops or people who want to donate can contact Woodward at (916) 952-8710 or The Folsom group has taken on the list of troops Placer’s Operation: MOM had compiled. Park said the Operation: MOM chapter played an important role not for just the troops, but also the parents. “It was support for one another, as their loved ones were coming and going in the war zone, “ Park said.