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"We Care" Ministers to Marine Families

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Debbie Millette (right) founded \"We Care\" Military Ministries in March 2003.

By Peter Biello

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/whqr/local-whqr-660977.mp3

Wilmington, NC – In the reception room of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Debbie Millette directs half a dozen people as they carry cans of food, empty boxes and wicker baskets to tables in the center of the room.

Jean if you would help him, there's an overflow room that we usually put Sunday school literature in, it should be some extra food there.

Cans of corn, ramen noodles, bags of beef jerky, and 120 dozen home made cookies cover the tables. Millette sorts them according to destination.

This is going to some Marines on base from the headquarters battalion and then we're making care packages for deployed Marines in Iraq.

Millette says she's been making care packages for Marines since 1990. Her husband Charlie was a Marine and her son Adam is currently a captain, back home from Iraq's Al-Anbar Province. She founded We Care Military Ministries a month before the invasion of Baghdad. Since then the group has prepared care packages every year. This year Millette says the need for packages is more urgent.

The guys are having to be gone longer or the fact that deploying more often, and that's quite a drain on families.

Millette says that's why this year her group decided to give to the wives and children of Marines at Camp Lejeune as well. Volunteer June Fulcher knows all too well the life of a Marine wife. Her husband was a Gunnery Sergeant until he retired more than 15 years ago.

I'm packing a basket of food for Christmas for the military wives and their children because sometimes when you're in the military, you need to make the pennies stretch.

Amy Kelley came by this morning to donate food. Her husband Joey is a first lieutenant serving in Iraq. Kelley says Debbie Millette does more than just make care packages.

If I ever am down, just down and out, I can pick up the phone and call Debbie, she's always got a cheerful spirit to talk to, she makes us feel better.

Millette says making people feel better is the whole point. She says she's also tries to help the Marines spiritually. On the table beside the boxes of cookies is a smaller box filled with orange pill bottles. In each pill bottle is a strip of paper with Bible quotations.

This is taken from Exodus. And it says, Indeed from this purpose I have raised you up, and that I may show my power in you, and that my name may be declared in all the earth. That's pretty motivating.

Millette says what motivates her is knowing how it feels to help kids like her own. When her son returned from Iraq a few weeks ago, he received a care package from a church in Washington State. He asked his mother to open it. Millette says for the first time she felt the warm sentiments she had been sending overseas.

I thought here I am on this end of it, thinking of what they sent my boy, that they don't even know who he is. But someone cared enough to do that. We know what it feels like on this end, but to actually see that and open it up and think of how these folks must feel, and as a mom, that really made me appreciate it.

Millette says that at Camp Lejeune there's never a shortage of Marine families who need a little support. So as long as the war endures, Debbie Millette says she'll provide what she can to troops at home and abroad.

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