Founded in 2009 by West Orange resident Micky Wagner, West Orange Cares began with the idea of sending “a little bit of home” to other members of her son’s unit while he was deployed to Afghanistan.  As with all military families with deployed personnel, Wagner requested the assistance of the Family Readiness Officer assigned to her son’s unit.  Pretty soon, West Orange Cares launched its website where active military personnel, their family and friends could sign up to receive care packages.
 
Almost two years later and thousands of pounds shipped to our troops overseas, West Orange Cares continues to support our troops and veterans at home.  In addition to sending care packages and letters to our troops overseas, West Orange Cares volunteers have begun visiting local area hospitals and providing gift bags and treats while sharing love and support to our wounded veterans.
 
Working together with other veteran organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 376, Jewish War Veterans Post 538, West Orange Elks, Soldiers’ Angels, Jersey Cares, Marines Care and the Marine Corps League L/Cpl Slattery Detachment, West Orange Cares continues to reach out to other organizations with the same purpose – to honor our troops and support them in any way we can.  Most important of all, are the people who volunteer their time and efforts to West Orange Cares.  “I don’t know what I would do without them,” says Wagner.  “Almost two years later, the same volunteers who showed up to our first packing day, are still here and packing away. Each packing day more and more volunteers join us and add their love and prayers to our care packages.” 
 
When asked where West Orange Cares is headed, Wagner replied “I’d like to see our organization grow to where we can provide help to more than just our troops, but also to their families. Being a veteran, I know how hard it is to have a family member deployed and not live near a military base.  While Family Readiness Officers try to keep the families together and informed, it’s difficult not having a support system in place where you can turn to for help; especially if you have no family nearby.”  West Orange Cares is now stepping up to try and fill that gap.  “We have volunteers who are “on call” that can help military families in need.  Parents and spouses can register with West Orange Cares and a list of volunteers who can be contacted for assistance will be supplied to them.  It’s our way of helping our troops by hoping they know we will protect their families while they protect us abroad.”
 
Care packages packed on March 26th, 9:00 am,  at West Orange Liberty School, 1 Kelly Drive, are slated to be shipped to the units of West Orange Police Officer Neuman Paye, Corporal Robert Pollizano (Seton Hall Prep) and Lance Corporal Matthew Mangrella (West Orange High School) who are currently deployed to Afghanistan.  Our volunteers will be joined by Summit Ridge Center, West Orange High School Inter-Key Club and Editor in Chief Radience Ashe and models of Height Magazine.
 
Summit Ridge Center, a skilled nursing and physical rehabilitation center, will have health professionals from Genesis HealthCare available to offer free blood pressure screenings and stress-management tips to those interested. Coincidentally, March 21-27 is recognized as World Salt Awareness Week and focuses on the effects of salt on health. To raise awareness, a dietician will be available at the event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide information on sodium-related topics.
 
Scheduled to launch in April 2011, Height is the first international fashion & lifestyle magazine dedicated to women 5’8 and taller whose mission is to change the old age way of thinking when it comes to tall women who are not models.  To encourage this mission, Girls of Height Inc., is a mentoring program for young, tall girls between the ages of 9 and 17 years old.  This program provides blogs for young girls to express how they feel about their self esteem and places them in contact with young ladies who appreciate and loved their height at an early age.
 
West Orange Cares relies 100% on volunteers, donated items and financial contributions in order to send care packages to our Troops.  If you would like to find out what you can do to support this great effort check out our website at www.westorangecares.com or email Micky Wagner at mwagner@westorangecares.com or call (973) 736-4176.