BERKELEY – When most people retire, chances are they don’t work nearly as much as they used to, if at all.
But Lloyd Mullikin is not most people.
The Bayville resident and former coastal geologist for the State Department of Environmental Protection technically retired years ago.
But he still works full-time hours for a cause he believes in – the “Support The Troops Project,” which he founded in 2004.
“The best answer is that it needed to be done,” he said. “When asked how long I plan to continue this project, the best answer is that it will stop when there is no longer a need, or I just can not do it anymore.”
And there is definitely a need. The organization primarily focuses on providing personal and food items to United States military units stationed overseas in remote or isolated locations, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries.
“Since I’ve retired, it’s become more full-time,” he said.
You might think the military would provide personnel with hygiene items like toothpaste, deodorant, and tampons. You’d be wrong.
“Because of the nature of troops’ mission, they are not always able to eat regular meals or have ready access to the basic necessities of life,” Mullikin said.
And if items are donated that can’t be sent overseas, Mullikin makes sure they go to area veterans’ groups, food pantries or other organizations that need them.
“I’m working with a lot of different agencies,” he said.
The downstairs of his bi-level Bayville home is often crammed with boxes of donations, until he can get them shipped at the Post Office.
Shipping costs have always been a problem, but more so now that shipping prices have increased, he said.
Mullikin does get help with postage costs from local VFW and American Legion posts, senior citizen groups and many individuals.
“I keep track of every penny,” he said. “The mailing costs have increased dramatically. My goal is to try and get a box mailed every day.”
If you want to help with deductible donations for the mailing costs, you can send a check to the “Troop Mailing Fund” at VFW Post 9503, Veterans Boulevard, Bayville, 08721.
Donations of items often comes from companies like Arm and Hammer. Recently, he had boxes of toothpaste ready to ship out. Frito-Lay donated ninety cases of beef jerky. If he gets items that would be better distributed locally, he will donate to area food pantries or thrift shops.
The items he ships overseas are greatly appreciated.
“Your boxes and the menagerie of items they contain never fail to disappoint anyone when they arrive,” U. S. Navy Petty Officer Chris Strysick wrote. “Between what you and others have sent, you have definitely made the days and quality of life better overall.”
Mullikin also credits Bayville resident Nancy Seibert for her “Cell Phones For Soldiers” project.
Unwanted cell phones are collected at a number of local areas. The phones are then sent for recycling and the organization receives 60-minute calling cards for troops overseas.
Mullikin calls the work for the troops as a “large group effort.”
“It takes a lot of people and companies to make this effort as successful as possible,” he said. “My part is identifying the military units, determining their needs and getting the boxes out to them. Most of the items sent, and the cost of shipping are contributed by the project’s many supporters.”
Anyone with questions or donations can call Mullikin at 732-269-1397, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.