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(Photo courtesy of Full Circle Home)
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Full Circle Home Collaborates With USO to Support Military Wives, Mothers

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

By Christian Pelusi 

It started out pretty simply for Vickie Durfee. In 2006, her deployed son Gil needed help getting his girlfriend Ashley a present for Christmas. As a director for Mary Kay cosmetics, Vickie quickly suggested mimicking that company’s "12 Days of Christmas" idea, spreading the tidings across the holiday season. Vickie's suggestion was right on target and Ashley was thrilled.

The following Christmas, Gil was based in Iraq and Vickie's thoughts turned to offering the service to Gil's 12-man platoon. But as her excitement for the project grew, so too did the interest among the troops. The end result: Vickie and her new corps of volunteers shipped 150 boxes. Vickie began to feel this was a calling and the idea of Full Circle Home was born.

Full Circle Home focuses on military wives and mothers who are enduring the stress and anxiety that comes with having loved ones deployed. FCH has tailored its boxes to things that can help soothe and relax women across the country, primarily around the winter holiday season and Mother's Day.

"We truly believe that the value that we put on the items in the box and the way they're wrapped reflect on the value we place on the women receiving the box," Vickie said. "When I first conceived this [idea], I didn't want it to be a formal handshake ... 'Thank you for your service.'  I wanted it to be a huge Marine Mom hug that would let her know that she wasn't alone and she was soooo appreciated."

While the scope of their projects has expanded, their methods have remained the same. Vickie still works out of her home in Rochester, N.Y. and the packing room is still her son's old bedroom, save for the packing parties and events that they conduct with local businesses when they take their show on the road.

FCH’s reach is about to take another large step forward as it teams with the USO to reach even more military families, starting with the May 10 package assembly event at the residence of Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. The event is part of the White House’s ongoing Joining Forces initiative to support military families that the USO has proudly supported.

"With the collaboration with the USO, we feel like we will have the real stamp of approval," Vickie said. "Nothing will change for us in many ways, but those who are looking us up will find a confirmation of authenticity in this collaboration."

Vickie and her partner Lisa Miller met with USO Programs managers earlier this year and came away even more enthusiastic about the upcoming event.

"After coming down to Arlington, seeing a 'pack' as they call it [care package stuffing event], and talking with everyone, we are so excited," Vickie said. "From the packing professionals, to procurement, graphic designers and more, it's exciting to be working with an organization of this size with such professionals. We are learning a lot and I hope that the USO is learning from us as well."

The items in the box include lotions, fragrances and a "Love from Afghanistan" bracelet -- "to make the woman receiving them feel special and remembered" -- but interestingly enough, the contents become an afterthought for the troops.

"The troops rarely even ask what is in the box of gifts!" Vickie said. "One wrote back after Mother's Day that he was 'the man' because his wife was so impressed with what a fabulous job he did picking them out. In fact, she liked them better than the flowers he paid for! But then he went on to say 'I had to tell her that I had no idea what was in the basket and that you and your wonderful group had done this.' "

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