From Staff Reports
Since 2009, Operation Baen Bulk has fulfilled unusual requests by deployed troops. They are a group of Science Fiction fans, organized around the discussion groups and forums of the authors at Baen Books. With a high percentage of serving military and veterans in their midst, they started hearing about deployed troops with limited PX facilities, or with special requests that could not be filled by ordinary means. From 2009 to 2013, they bought (in bulk) and shipped coffee, stainless steel coffee mugs, warm socks, hydration supplies, flashlights, batteries, reading materials, holiday decorations, and of course sweet and savory snacks to remind the troops that they were not forgotten. In 2013, with deployments winding down, they shifted their attention to soldiers recovering from combat-related injuries and delivered over 80 Kindle electronic book readers to military rehabilitation facilities. They selected Kindles because they can be operated one-handed, have scalable typeface and audiobook capabilities. Each reader was loaded with over 500 fantasy, science fiction, and other titles of interest to the military. The books were free and donated by Baen Books, Castalia House, Naked Reader Press, Wordfire Press and others. They just had to buy the Kindles (in bulk) and load the titles. They sent to three military treatment facilities, and two others that specialize in military vets and/or their families (e.g. Fisher House).
This year they are planning to ship Kindles to facilities in San Diego and San Antonio and are still looking for other targets on the East Coast or possibly overseas. They will also continue sending comfort snacks, sundries and reading materials to units as we learn of folks being deployed.
For this year’s fundraiser, They are asking folks to go to their website (http://OBB.teddroberts.com) and donate to this year’s fundraiser. You can also donate by buying one of the Limited Edition Operation Baen Bulk Challenge Coins ($27.50). More than 65 percent of the cost of the coins goes to the fundraiser, the remainder is strictly to cover minting costs, postage and payment processing fees. That page explains their mission and goals, and provides ordering/donation links. There’s also a link to a companion site (http://teddroberts.com/ecommerce.html) that showcases the other coins we are selling this year, all to benefit Operation Baen Bulk 2015.
“We had a request from an ammo supply platoon for travel-style coffee mugs since paper and styrofoam cups spill and can’t stand up to being banged around in military vehicles,” Rob Hampson said. “That actually sounded like a great idea for all of the units we were supporting (about 5 at that time – 2010). We found a vendor that would make stainless steel covered mugs with a special logo ‘From the Barflies to the Troops.’ We raised the funds by selling mugs to the Baen Barflies for $10 each – that price actually paid for three mugs – one for the purchaser, and two to be sent to our soldiers!” We sold about 250 mugs – resulting in over 500 sent to our troops.”
Founder Keith Glass said the whole thing started as a something to do while job hunting.”
“In the fall of 2009, I needed a project to keep me sane while looking for a job with the economy going south,” Glass said. “The Baen Barflies had some individual projects sending books and goodies to soldiers, but when I learned that a Verification Transition Team in Afghanistan had no PX, and thus limited sundries and personal hygeine supplies, I became the logistics geek and chief instigator of the group. We pooled our money and resources to insure that the VTT and several other units had Christmas Trees, decorations and good coffee. Since then, we’ve provided for some pretty oddball requests as well as creature comfort needs – from training detachments, to combat medics, to Ammo Dawgs.”