After ten years of dedicated service to the charity, Penny Keen has decided to retire as the area co-ordinator, based in Littlehampton.
Faye Hersee has agreed to take over but as she lives in East Preston, the area will now be known under the new name.
Elaine Middlemiss, on behalf of the trustees, said: “Support our Soldiers would like to say a huge thank you to our Littlehampton co-ordinator Penny Keen, who sadly, has had to step down from her role as a volunteer.
“She has been an absolute ambassador for SOS and has dedicated the past ten years to ensure our Armed Forces on overseas deployment received their morale boosting ‘green boxes’ every month and hundreds more each Christmas.
“She has been responsible for organising fundraising events and has raised significant funds with the help of her community and friends to ensure our Armed Forces were looked after. She will be sorely missed by all of us at SOS. We wish her a long and happy retirement.
“On a brighter note, Penny has been instrumental in finding a replacement from the Littlehampton area and we’d like to welcome Faye Hersee from East Preston. We’re sure she’ll do an amazing job in taking over sending the ‘green boxes’ to our lads and lasses overseas.”
Faye, a single mum with two children, has been in the role since February 1 and said she has been focusing her attention on making contacts within the community.
She was delighted to be able to send 42 boxes in her first month and expects to send about 100 for March, filled with Easter treats.
Although she had not volunteered for the charity before, her daughter Jade and mum have helped with the annual Support Our Soldiers collection at The Angmering School.
Faye said: “The charity supports men and women in the Armed Forces on overseas deployment and their families back here as well. I couldn’t bear to just see it just stop in Littlehampton. I thought if it just needs my time, how can I not?
“My main job will be to fundraise and create the morale boxes, which get sent all over the world, wherever they are on deployment.
“Penny was finding it harder and harder, due to Covid restrictions, so I have been looking for the best deals, to get more out of it.
“It is about lifting their morale and they are just so grateful to get our boxes. The thing I find really humbling is that even with Covid, I can still go to the shop. They haven’t even been able to have their R&R. It is phenomenal what they do.
“It is just good to be able to do something nice for people, that’s what it is all about.”
Faye’s eight-year-old son Kyle and his classmates at Arundel Church of England School have drawn pictures to include in the boxes.
She said her priority at the moment was the raise awareness of the charity’s work and the fact it is entirely run by volunteers.
One of the ways she is ‘maximising the potential’, as she puts it, is the new link-up with Morrisons Littlehampton, where ‘grab bags’ will be available at the front of the store for customers to pick up and purchase, then drop off at the charity donation point in store.
Alison Whitburn, the store’s community champion, said: “The customers here are amazing and so supportive. It is easy for them, they can pick up a bag, pay for it and it is done. I spend a lot of my time refilling the shelf with more bags. There are different ranges of prices, so it doesn’t cost a lot.”
There are restrictions on items that can be sent in the boxes, so Alison has tailored her grab bag selections accordingly, for example including tins of coffee rather than glass jars.
Faye has also been running raffles to raise money and Morrisons has donated a hamper as a prize.
Find Support Our Soldiers East Preston on Facebook for more information and updates.