Rancho Santa Fe resident seeks donations to help troops traveling home


Rancho Santa Fe’s Kelsey Conger is looking to her community to help make holiday travel a little more comfortable for our nation’s soldiers. Conger is seeking donations toward a San Diego USO and the Pepperdine University Alumni Associations “Waves of Appreciation” project to provide food gift bags for traveling soldiers. As San Diego is home to all five branches of the military, an average of 3,000 soldiers travel home to see their families over the holidays on commercial flights from San Diego International Airport.

“The military servicemen and women do so much for us,” said Conger, 18, a 2011 graduate of Cathedral Catholic High School. “They make so little money and give up their lives to protect us. This is a way we can give back to them.”

Conger got involved with the project as her sister attends Pepperdine and she will join her at Pepperdine in the spring. She has always been interested and involved in charitable works as she participated in National Charity League.

Conger can draw on her own experiences of why this project makes sense; she recalls meeting a soldier on a plane once who hadn’t had a bite to eat the entire day. It’s common for a soldier to spend their whole travel time without having anything to eat or drink because they simply don’t have the money to buy anything.

“It’s something so small yet it’s a necessity,” said Conger. “It’s a small way to show them how much we care and appreciate them.”

Donations will go toward bags packed with food and a handmade thank you note that will be passed out Nov. 18-23 and Dec. 19-24. If they raise enough money, Conger said they hope to be able to provide hot meal vouchers, as well. A generous donor has pledged to match any amount given up to $5,000. To contribute, send cash and checks to P.O. Box 9374 Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067. Make checks payable to USO San Diego. For additional information, e-mail Kelsey Conger at