For most small business owners and entrepreneurs, starting up requires extensive planning, but for Deb Rickert of Naperville, Ill., planning was an afterthought. In fact, it was when her son got accepted to West Point Academy that her family’s life changed forever.
“There was a lot of rhetoric in.....
“There was a lot of rhetoric in the media in 2003 on whether or not we should be in the Middle East or not, but I wanted it understood that we support the troops no matter what,” Rickert said.
In February 2003, she started collecting Valentine’s Day treats and boxes of donations at her home and at her local church for the troops. The community support was tremendous, and even after Valentine’s Day, packages continued to pour in.
“There wasn’t enough room in my house anymore,” Rickert said of the mass amount of donations.
In 2007, two of Deb's sons had been deployed, and she realized how many families needed an outlet to reach their loved ones servicing our country overseas, so she transformed her one-woman operation into an official 501-C nonprofit business under the name Operation Support Our Troops America (OSOTA) and expanded to a second location down the street from their original warehouse. There was no turning back. Realizing a real need to hone her business skills, Rickert went to Indiana University for a two-week week crash course on non-profit management.
Rockin’ for the Troops
OSOTA’s biggest event, and what has made them so successful during their 10 years, is Rockin’ for the Troops, which will be held at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Ill. on July 20.
In its eighth year, Rockin’ for the Troops will feature Grammy winner Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn, and past headliner actor Gary Sinise's Lieutenant Dan Band has supported the event on multiple occasions. The concert is presented by the First Cavalry Association and is sponsored by Midas and Navistar, with the theme “Only in America”, in celebration of OSOTA’s ten year anniversary.
Tickets for Rockin’ for the Troops are $25, the same price to ship a care package to a troop in need overseas.
OSOTA has no plans of slowing down. As of last year, they hit 1.2 million pounds of donations for the troops and have raised enough money to fund their support programs for veterans and their families, active duty service members and crisis support programs.
For a message from Gary Sinise about supporting the troops, check out the video below, courtesy of the Google Veterans Youtube Channel.