2017-04-16 / Insight

‘It’s been a big blessing’

Operation Care Package prepares more than 100 Easter ‘buckets’
BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 •


Operation Care Package founder JJ Fulgenzi (left) pauses for a picture with volunteer Sharon DeGroat. The four buckets pictured are all that remain of the more than 100 assembled by Operation Care Package, the proceeds of which go directly to supporting American Armed Forces members. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Operation Care Package founder JJ Fulgenzi (left) pauses for a picture with volunteer Sharon DeGroat. The four buckets pictured are all that remain of the more than 100 assembled by Operation Care Package, the proceeds of which go directly to supporting American Armed Forces members. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — Easter treats don’t always come in baskets — sometimes they come in buckets.

Operation Care Package (OPC) in Lapeer is a dedicated group of volunteers led by Oregon Township resident JJ Fulgenzi, whose mission is to send support to American servicemen and women around the world. The group sends care packages and letters to service people with help from the community.

This Easter, OPC has been putting together special Easter buckets for sale in their resale store on 606 North Saginaw St. in Lapeer. Fulgenzi and the volunteers have assembled more than 100 buckets, the proceeds of which go directly toward OPC’s mission of supporting the troops and, according to Fulgenzi, only four buckets are left.

“A gentleman works at a place that just tosses away the buckets when they’re done with them,” said Fulgenzi. “So instead, he brings them to us and we clean them out and use them for Easter.”

The buckets contain all the items one would expect of a traditional modern Easter basket, such as candy, chocolate, small toys and stuffed animals. “It’s been a big blessing,” Fulgenzi said. “We’ve sold at least 100.”

OPC has been entirely volunteer-based for more than 14 years. Fulgenzi said that the idea sprang to mind from sending her son, who was serving overseas with the 82nd Airborne Division, various care packages and letters.

“First I was sending them to (my son), but then it grew to sending things to his buddies, then to his whole unit,” said Fulgenzi. “For the first two years I did it entirely by myself, so we decided to turn into a nonprofit and raise funds that way.”

According to Fulgenzi, the Easter buckets have been wildly successful and have been a huge boon for OPC. So much so that Fulgenzi and the volunteers are planning other holiday-themed buckets for other holidays. “Mother’s Day is coming up next and we have been working day and night for that,” said Fulgenzi. “We have great buckets put together that moms are going to love.” Each bucket, from the Easter buckets to next month’s Mother’s Day buckets, are unique, with no two buckets decorated or stuffed the same. Fulgenzi said that they plan to do birthday buckets, baby shower buckets and other non-holiday related events as well.

Fulgenzi said that while she prefers OPC to be small-scale, donations of time, money or items to use either in buckets or to sell in OPC’s resale store are welcome. “We’re not (a big organization) and I don’t ever want it to get big, because then you forget the real reason behind it,” she said. “You do it from your heart for our heroes, nothing more.”

If you are interested in learning more about Operation Care Package Michigan, visit their Facebook page or their website, www.ocpmi.com, or call them at 810- 664-7342.

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