On Saturday, April 28th to honor the “Month of the Military Child” the Raleigh Tennis Association (RTA) in North Carolina held its second annual packing party. Through donations from teams in their area, they collected enough items to create 450 care packages that were sent to four different units.
The first 100 volunteers were given free “Support Our Troops” t-shirts. Military personnel and families were invited as well as volunteers from the tennis association and local tennis players.
The day started with a luncheon for Blue Star mothers. Patti Elliot, Gold Star Mother and recipient of Raleigh Tennis Association’s “Charity Event of the Year” award was in attendance. Patti brought along the banner signed at last year’s event that the RTA sent to her son, Lucas Ellliot's unit last year, the 805th. The banner had been to Afghanistan and back, and was hung directly below this year’s banner. The Blue Star Mother's presented Beth Beam (RTA president) and Susan Flanagan with an honorary Blue Star mother pin. In addition, Patti Elliot presented Beth and Susan with a beautiful warrior chip of her son, Lucas who was killed in action.
A color guard opened the ceremony with a salute and national anthem. During that time there was a USTA match going on and most courts were occupied. When the color guard began, the players stopped their play, faced the ceremony, put their racquets down and put their hands on their hearts. It was truly a magnificent sight as well as a perfect way to open the event.
Following that there was followed by a “Walk of Dedication” sponsored by Saucony Shoes. Participants also wrote letters to the troops and enjoyed free food, games and prizes throughout the event. It was capped off by a tennis carnival for the whole family.