Thinking of You Services will host its sixth annual picnic to support American troops stationed overseas on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 6 p.m.
The non profit organization hosts the yearly picnic to collect care package items to send free of charge to U.S. military personnel from any state who are serving in the Middle East and other places.
This year the location is different. The event will take place at the Palmetto Bay Village Center, 18001 Old Cutler Rd, Building C. Admission is free, and there will be free food, entertainment, family fun, a bounce house for the kids and other activities.
Freddie Ambrose, founder of the event, said that their only request is that people attending bring some care package items for the troops. Needed are coffee (16 ounce bags), energy bars, disposable razors, baby wipes, Pop Tarts, Slim Jims and socks.
Each year, Ambrose and his wife wrap packages of these items and mail them to service men and women overseas.
“This year we have quite a few sponsors and we have more children’s activities,” Ambrose said. “We’re having a bounce house, a watermelon eating contest, a hula hoop contest for the kids, and a ‘Take your picture with the superheroes’ area. There’s a company coming in and they’re dressing like superheroes.”
Ambrose is a Vietnam veteran who knows what it’s like to be in a distant war zone far from home and longing for mail. Knowing someone cares makes a big difference.
“This is all to bring attention to the troops overseas, to send them a bit of home, from here to there,” Ambrose said. “People contact us with their loved one’s address overseas and we send them a package. The military person is surprised to receive a package with items that are hard for them to get over there. Each package has enough items for one to four people to use. They usually write back a letter of appreciation to us. And if anyone gives us a nice letter of support we put that in the package, too.”
The first 100 guests will receive a free Tshirt for the event. Last year’s picnic attracted close to 300 people of all ages. Ambrose said there will be a dance contest for adults and the first prize will be a Blue- Ray DVD.
“We have a wonderful deejay, Louis Fundora, who will provide the music and take care of the dance contest,” Ambrose said. “He did such a wonderful job last year and he offered to come back this year.We were so glad to have him.”
People are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs if they like for the picnic. And this year, there will be a special “photo op” chance for guests.
“The Military Museum and Memorial of South Florida, which is located near Zoo Miami, is going to bring an authentic fully equipped military Jeep that people can take pictures of themselves with and everything,” Ambrose said. “They changed their schedule just so they could attend our event, and we really appreciate it.”
For information call 786-252-2798.