Supplying soldiers with taste of home

People in Real Estate: Wendy and John Rocca

Sometimes, when Wendy and John Rocca open their front door to retrieve the newspaper, they find jars of peanut butter and jelly on their steps.

"We have no idea who delivered them," said Wendy. But they know where the jars are going — to Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea — anyplace where U.S. troops are serving who need a little something from "back home," not to mention a written reassurance that someone is thinking about them.

The Roccas are the founders of Operation American Soldier, a Watertown, Mass., charity that each month packs and ships hundreds of "cheer boxes" to servicemen and women abroad, a burgeoning enterprise that began simply enough in 2003 when their daughter, serving in Iraq, asked them to send her some toiletries and snacks she couldn’t acquire locally.

After her box of goodies arrived, their daughter asked them if they could package some things for others in her unit who had no one back home to send them anything. The Roccas obliged, and word got around — to say the least.