LAKEPORT, Calif. – The COVID-19 pandemic stopped many things. One thing it didn’t stop – military deployments.

Troops continue to serve around the globe, many in very remote locations, some in harm’s way, and far from family and home.

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, Operation Tango Mike, which translates from military jargon to Operation Thanks Much, will commemorate 18 years of troop support.

The all-volunteer nonprofit has shipped more than 22,000 care packages to deployed military personnel.

When permitted, volunteers gather on the third Thursday of every month, at 6 p.m. at Umpqua Bank, 805 11th St., Lakeport, to prepare care packages for the troops.

The local effort began on behalf of local soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in March 2003. At times, more than 150 monthly care packages have been shipped. Today, 70 to 100, and sometimes more, care packages are sent to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other countries. Last month included ten countries.

Military families are supported as well. Many volunteers that support Operation Tango Mike have volunteered assistance with home repairs, transportation and more.

With no base or military installation in the local area, folks who support the troops and their families gather via Operation Tango Mike. Military families are welcomed and are provided with emotional support, knowing that they and their loved ones are appreciated.

“Forget politics, support our troops,” is the mantra that has helped ensure that all are welcomed and appreciated at Operation Tango Mike functions. The effort does not involve politics and exists to support our troops and their families.

Troops often express appreciation in thank you messages that are sent to Operation Tango Mike.

Colonel Krische wrote recently, “Please be advised that boxes arrived here last week. Their contents will be made available to the personnel on the base. Thank you for supporting the troops.” He was writing from Afghanistan.

In a previous message, Major Robinson wrote, “I received your packages and gave them all out to the Soldiers and they were very grateful. It is great to still get support long after the bumper stickers have faded.”

Though the public packing parties are not currently allowed, monthly care packages are being prepared and shipped.

This has been very challenging, as fundraising is severely limited during the pandemic, and shipping fees have risen to $20.40 per box. This does not include the cost of goods, such as food and hygiene items.

On Saturday, March 20, Linda’s Gift Gallery and Hallmark in Lakeport will host an event benefiting Operation Tango Mike, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All COVID-19 precautions will be followed.

There will be prizes, raffles and more. Anyone bringing a donation item for care packages will receive a shopping discount, and a portion of the day’s sales will be donated to Operation Tango Mike.

Suggested donation items include nuts, jerky, tuna pouches, individual drink mixes, stick deodorant, foot/body powder and lip balm.

Hallmark owner Linda Banfill is a staunch supporter of Operation Tango Mike, and her sons were care package recipients during their deployments as Marines.

The regular monthly packing parties will resume as soon as it is safe to do so and permitted by the County.

For further information or to add someone to the care package recipient list, please call 707-349-2838, email or visit