Local college students develop online portal to simplify sending military care packages
Cedar Rapids, Iowa December 2, 2016–Sergeant Sender, a startup company based in Cedar Rapids, is an online portal designed to help customers easily select and send care packages to US service members who are deployed or live overseas. The new company was founded by Coe College students Patricia Ochs (‘16), Caitlin McKendry (‘17), and Hayley Carmont.
The idea was developed in Jay Chen’s Entrepreneurship class in September. From Ochs’ personal experience of being in the military, she considered the loneliness and isolation the nation’s military often face. According to USAToday.com, the Pentagon reported that 265 active-duty service members killed themselves in 2015, continuing a trend of unusually high suicide rates that have plagued the U.S. military for at least seven years.
“I remember being in boot camp and being homesick. I wanted to go home and that wasn’t an option. My family sent me letters, cards, and photos which reminded me they were thinking of me and were supporting me from many miles away,” Ochs said. At the same time, she said that family and friends at home struggle with what items are acceptable to send. With that, Sergeant Sender was born with the help of fellow students, McKendry and Carmont.
To date, the team has developed the initial website portal (www.sergeantsender.com) where customers can select or create care packages to send to deployed military. Visitors can shop for a specific service member or make a donation to an anonymous member by going on the website.
“I enjoyed my experience with Sergeant Sender because it gave me the opportunity to reach out and let my military nephew know that he was being thought of back home by receiving a special care package made especially for him. I found that it was easy and very convenient to be able to sit at my desk and order a variety of items for him, including Halloween candy! I really appreciated not having to go out shopping for the items, taking it home and packaging it up and then going to the post office to mail it, which would have taken me a day or two to accomplish,” Teresa Router, Sergeant Sender user.
Going forward, the team will continue to add to the package offerings on the site and also plan to involve veterans and non-profit organizations with fulfillment, shipping and potentially in creating more personal items such as tie blankets and messages for the packages.
The Sergeant Sender team will present their project turned business at the upcoming Demo Day at Coe on December 5th at 4:00 pm at Stuart Hall on the Coe campus. To reserve a seat at the free event, click here.