Catholic Students Collect Millitary Care Package Items for Our Troops

Local Catholic schools hope to make the holiday season a bit brighter for members of the U.S. Navy deployed far from home.

Schools from the Diocese of San Bernardino are teaming up to write letters of encouragement, send care packages and ship small Christmas trees to a group of medical corpsmen and others deployed with the First Marine Expeditionary force aboard the USS Essex, USS Rushmore and USS Anchorage.

Tom Strickland, principal at St. James School in Perris, organized the effort. Strickland’s son Kevin is one of the medical corpsmen on the ships that will receive the boxes filled with toiletries, magazines, books, snacks, headphones and other goodies. Strickland said the desire to show gratitude is the reason behind the effort.

“They are doing stuff every day for our benefit that no one knows about,” he said of the men and women serving. “That is the reason I wanted to do this. We want to say, “We are thinking of you and are still appreciative of what you are doing for us.’”

Besides St. James, schools participating in the care-package effort include St. Edwards in Corona; St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside; St. Jeanne De Lestonnac in Temecula; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Riverside.

St. Thomas in Riverside; St. Hyacinth in San Jacinto; and Riverside’s Notre Dame High School joined St. James, St. Edwards and St. Catherine of Alexandria to provide donated Christmas trees for the ships.

The Scottsville, New York-based Stokoe Farms agreed to provide small Christmas trees to be used to decorate the ships, part of its Trees for Troops program. Strickland also reached out to Valley Resource Center in Murrieta, a nonprofit group whose biggest philanthropic program involves sending care packages to military members.

Raven Hilden, founder and chief executive officer of Valley Resource Center, said her organization started shipping packages a couple of years ago after a woman asked for help sending boxes to her husband and son – both deployed at the same time. The nonprofit group started with a few boxes monthly and now ships hundreds, with the help of 50 volunteers.

“The need was definitely there,” Hilden said. “We want to show troops that the community is thinking about them, supporting them and will be here when they return.”

Strickland said participants have raised around $1,400 to give to Valley Resource Center for to help pay for shipping.

“We are trying to teach our kids to give back,” Strickland said. “Even the little ones come in and drop in a quarter or a dollar. We are going to gather that money as part of the final collection.”

The Knights of Columbus also donated around $888 for the cause.  The schools will be shipping more than 200 boxes, Strickland said.

“I am very pleasantly surprised and humbled by the fact that it has taken off and done very well,” he said. “It is something I didn’t expect. It has been a very worthwhile project.”

Ribbon Cutting in the Valley News

The Valley Resource Center celebrated their new office location at the Murrieta Innovation Center on May 17th with 150 in attendance. Read more about the event here:

Operation Prom Girl

Honored to be a part of the Operation Prom Girl event. The Valley Resource Center assisted with resource information, volunteer opportunities, and provided journals for the girls. Operation Prom girl provided prom dresses, makeup, and photo packages to more than 100 girls today!

2017 Backpack Drive

We provided over 65 new backpacks filled with school supplies to low-income children in SW Riverside County for the 2017-2018 school year!  

Our goal is to fill at least 100 backpacks for the next school year. Your donation will fill a backpack giving low-income youth a head start for a brighter future.


Western Center Academy Earth Day Fashion Show 


The Valley Resource Center partnered with the Western Center Academy in Hemet, CA as the designated 501c3 nonprofit for their programs. We attended their Earth Day Fashion Show, thanks to Shelley Munoz, where students showed off their amazing outfits made from recycled materials. They were absolutely fantastic! 

Paul Mitchell Schools volunteered to assist students with hair and makeup while The Arts Institute of California - Inland Empire sponsored the event and donated $350 to the Valley Resource Center in support of our Adopt-A-Troop program. Many thanks!

Valley Resource Center team members, Karyn and Gregg were instrumental in representing the Valley Resource Center. Raven Hilden, the founder/CEO of the Valley Resource Center spoke onstage and the Western Center Academy will be collecting military care package items from students and staff for the month of May and plan to work with the Western Center Academy for a fall Backpack Program for low-income youth. We love working with the community!