They are not only a social organization, but one that does numerous charitable endeavors. This holiday season, the local Red Hot Mama's of Pioneer Village Red Hats group worked with Cape Coral-based Adopt-A-Troop Foundation to send thoughtful care packages to troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We decided the troops were doing so much for us, we - the Red Hats - wanted to do something for them," said chapter queen Bev Berkey.
In past years, many have benefitted from their holiday fund raising. "While we are a social group, our money is used for charity. In the past we've donated to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Marine's Toys for Tots, Hope Hospice, relief for Haiti and Suncoast Estates Task Force."
The Red Hot Mama’s of Pioneer Village recently
contributed to Adopt-A-Troop.
They had help from their friends and neighbors in gathering donations. "It was a park-wide (Pioneer Village) effort," she said.
"The people in the park donated many things, they also thought it would be good to donate to our soldiers," said the chapter's former queen Janice Brubaker.
And an emphasis was placed on female soldiers as well as male soldiers, both said. "For female soldiers we made boxes of things they might like - everything from lip balm to Avon, popcorn, fruit and little individual microwaveable foods," Berkey said.
The packages will make it for Christmas, she said.
"The Red Hat are also paying for the postage," said member Betty Kendzior.
In each box was a note from the Red Hats that reads: "To all of the brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Red Hat Ladies enjoyed shopping for supplies that we are sending you. We would like to thank you for fighting for us. We hope you come back to us. God bless you - our prayers are always with you."
For many members, it was a cause near and dear to their hearts. "My grandson just returned from Iraq last Friday from his second hitch," said member Darlene Cushman.
The cause is also personal for Adopt-A-Troop Foundation founder Kay Caple of Cape Coral. "I'm a twice-Vietnam widow," she said. "I lost my first in 1961, and another military husband in 1999."
She started her non-profit volunteer group and donation foundation in November of 2007. They sent 20 packages that first year. "Now we have sent 1,845 boxes in the last few years, and I'm getting ready to ship another 143 today."
The local Red Hat group is a key group for packages this year. "I also have a gentleman who had one son and two cousins in the military who donated. I do this out of my garage, with friends helping me."
The foundation asks for practical and comforting items, everything from Gold Bond Foot Powder to Vienna Sausage, Tootsie Pops and fruit.
Magazines, playing cards batteries and bug repellent are also on her preferred gift list.
To learn more about the organization, go to adoptatroop.net.