“Packages for Heroes”

Payne, Wilson on mission for military troops serving abroad

Mary Lynne Payne and Joy Wilson may not be serving with the armed forces, but they are on a mission for servicemen and women just the same.

The pair have been hard at work on the “Packages for Heroes” project since September, and already have sent 60 boxes overseas, with plans for 30 more in the coming weeks.

They still are seeking donations to help provide even more sustenance and encouragement for men and women serving throughout the world.

Payne, director of community relations for Clarity Pointe Memory Care Assisted Living in Farragut, and Wilson, owner of the home healthcare business Right at Home, had the idea to send “care packages” to deployed men and women earlier this year.

Seedlings for the idea sprang from Payne’s personal experiences, as her son, Army Black Hawk pilot Capt. Spencer Robert Payne, was stationed in Afghanistan at the time, and she frequently sent him care packages.

She supplemented his rations with healthy snacks and other personal items, and realized that many other active-duty soldiers could likely benefit from care packages of their own.

Payne and Wilson held a kick-off event for the project in September, and since that time received enough funding and materials to fill the 60 boxes that have been sent so far.

Recipients’ names are provided through individuals and various resources, said Payne, whose

own son has recently returned state-side.

Food and items the public may wish to donate include protein or creatine powder, shaker bottles, protein bars, soft tuna packs, peanut butter, beef jerky, dried nuts and fruit, granola bars, trail mix, coffee and ramen noodles.

But “Packages for Heroes” is more than just the materials inside the boxes: each package is lovingly decorated and contains personalized notes, letters or cards.

The organization has had assistance from local schools, businesses and churches, as well as individuals who have made the program successful.

Monetary contributions also are appreciated, which pays for postage and any additional materials that have not been donated.

“Every little bit helps,” Payne said.

If the donations continue after the holidays, the organizers are considering creating a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which would help provide care packages throughout the year.

For more information, contact Clarity

Pointe at 865-777-1500 or Right at Home at