Our Story

Suitcase4Soldiers began in December 2010 when it's founder, Ashley Easterly, had an idea.
Ashley's father Thomas was home on Christmas vacation from his job, which takes him to and from Iraq. Although a United States Citizen working in Iraq, Thomas Easterly was residing on a military base in Iraq with about 40-50 uniformed soldiers at the time. Ashley heard stories from her father about the conditions at the base. The food was instant, just-add-water, highly unappetizing food, the living conditions were poor, and the bathrooms were more like outhouses from the 19th century than modern ones. 
Ashley thought, "Surely there's something I can do to make things a little better for the troops."
Her idea was simple: "When my dad goes back to Iraq in January, I can pack an extra suitcase with things for the soldiers to make life easier. A Suitcase for the Soldiers."
And it began.

Ashley collected items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, Ramen Noodles, dental floss, and other such items. She asked close friends, family, and her school's Student Council (which she was an officer of) to contribute items. Her local elementary school contacted Ashley and contributed too - all the students wrote letters for the soldiers and donated their class coloring books. Many local schools donated. On the first collection, so many items were received that it couldn't all fit in just one suitcase to go back to Iraq, so the items were packed in a trunk and shipped to the base.

Since the first trunk was sent in January, several more boxes and trunks have been sent with various items, including Girl Scout Cookies, Valentines candies,  candy-filled plastic Easter Eggs for the men and women at the FOB BOR Base in  Iraq, and summer-themed trunks with things to keep cool to Marines in Afghanistan.

In April of 2011, Ashley filled out an application for Suitcase4Soldiers to win a $5K grant through the Pepsi Refresh grant program, which gives money to deserving service projects and organizations who show a dedication to their communities. Suitcase4Soldiers went through a vigorous application process followed by a period of voting by the public. Suitcase4Soldiers started out at number 32 out of several hundred projects that applied for the May 2011 voting period, of which up to 20 are able to receive the grant. Suitcase4Soldiers quickly rose to the top 20 projects in it's category due to the support of friends, family, and the community. Suitcase4Soldiers ended the voting cycle at #9 and became a finalist. After a verification process in which many additional forms were required to be filled out including budget charts and other forms, Suitcase4Soldiers received confirmation on June 23, 2011 that Suitcase4Soldiers had been approved as a grant recipient.

Ashley hopes to continue sending care packages and suitcases for as long as there is need to send some to those who fight for our freedom and for the freedom of others.