In 2004, when Beverly Kay Borum's son was serving in the Persian Gulf, she reached out to connect with other Marine moms. Eventually, she and those moms started Tucson Area Marine MomS, or TAMMS. Today, it has more than 100 members. The group is holding a socks drive and collecting other foot-care items and cash for the quarterly care packages it sends to members of all branches of the military. Donations can be mailed to TAMMS, P.O. Box 1636, Sahuarita, AZ 85629. For more info, go to their website.
Does your son still serve in the Marine Corps?
My son joined in 1996, and he got out after doing four tours of duty in Iraq. He was one of the first ones over.
How have you reached out to more moms?
After about our third or fourth meeting, we talked to the Tucson Marine recruiter to tell them about our group and what we wanted to do, and how we wanted to help them and have them help us. And now once a year, they have a family day (for people in the Marines' Delayed Entry Program), and we've been guest speakers ever since. And we've put together a packet for new moms, a boot camp information packet.
What did the recruiter's office ask of you?
That we were available to talk to the mother of a future Marine and let them know that there was a support group locally to answer questions about boot camp and other training. We support each other and the moms as soon as their kid signs the papers ... and definitely through deployment. You know the Marines have a saying, "Once a Marine, always a Marine," and we have our own saying, too, "Once a Marine mom, always a Marine mom."
What special projects are you working on now?
The radio station KLPX got in touch with us about working on a sock drive called Socks for Soldiers.
Troops in Afghanistan, regardless of what branch, have rougher conditions than what they all had in Iraq. This is due to the topography of the land and the type of fighting that they are doing—none of our troops there or in Iraq has it easy. Facilities are so hard to get to for the troops: They can't come in at night and go around the corner and do their laundry, and in Afghanistan, they walk a lot more than Iraq. It's so hilly. It's harder to be in a vehicle and go place to place.
What kind of socks?
We would like 100 percent cotton, but you can't find them. But we need them in black, navy blue, dark green and dark brown in the solid color, and that goes over the calf. The date has been extended from July 4 to July 20, and people can drop off socks at 12 Brake Masters locations in Tucson and two Miller's Surplus stores. All have drop boxes, plus some people have taken socks to the radio station. Currently, I know we have 210 pairs coming in from a group called the Tucson Old-Timers Baseball Club.
What else do you guys do?
We also are collecting waterproof bandages to put over blisters, antibacterial foot powder and cream. Our July 21 box-packing party (for care packages) is predominately for foot care.
Can anyone help?
No. Our packing parties are closed and by special invitation, because if your sons or daughter are deployed, this is a very emotional time for a mother. The box-packing parties are informal. A mom can come with two of her best buds and cry if she wants to—a lot of us do when we are packing boxes. I've seen the gals pick up a pair of socks, put it over their heart and kiss it before putting it in the box.
What do you think is important for folks to know?
The Tucson area and surrounding communities have really supported TAMMS over the past seven years. ... We appreciate it and all our deployed troops appreciate it. I have a 23-year-old grandson-in-law. When he was in the Army and deployed in Afghanistan, and TAMMS sent him a care package, the other guys crowded him as he unpacked the box and they saw all the goodies. "Tell you grandma my name and address," they said. Those guys got care packages, and as good as the Arizona air is, we do our best not to send any of it there. If there's a rattle, we put more stuff in it. We can always fit another pair of socks in that box.
What other donations can you use?
Well, no chocolate in summer. The troops really like hard candies and food bars, also individual soft drink mixes, like Kool-Aid or Gatorade.