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Sailor collects over 500 care packages for troops

NORFOLK, Va (WVEC) – Just in time for the holidays, a Navy Sailor has collected gifts to send to more than 500 of her fellow service members overseas.

It was all a part of an idea that Chelsea Mandello, who is just 28, dreamt about a year ago.

"I just wanted to help those who were deployed,” said Mandello.

Mandello knows that feeling all too well. Right now, she’s on shore duty, but remembers deployment vividly.

"You really just miss home and you feel left out," said Mandello. “"Individuals might not have kids or they might not be married and so they don't receive as many care packages."

“Troopster” is the name of the organization Mandello started in response.

This year is the first time she’s taken on the massive task.

Constantly waking up at 4 a.m. and taking off time from work, Mandello said it was an effort completely made possible by the public.

“I just love how the Hampton Roads community really came together to support the Military,” said Mandello.

More than 40 businesses bought supplies and boxes.

Others have offered up services like transportation for free.

Mandello and a group of volunteers plan to pack up the care packages on Friday at the Slover Library in Norfolk.

Mandello is still looking for sponsors to help with shipping costs. She’s set up a GoFundMe here -- https://www.gofundme.com/Troopster