Leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, KSBY normally teams up with Si Tenenberg, a San Luis Obispo resident and marine veteran, to help ship care packages to military members stationed across the world. COVID-19 put a hamper on that once again this year, but even with the restrictions, Si continues to get supplies into the hands of those serving overseas.
“We were afraid the American people would forget us, but you have haven’t,” said Tenenberg.
Si Tenenberg is one who will never forget those continuing to fight for our freedom.
What began as a small project 15 years ago, has blossomed into more than a full-time job for the 86-year-old, proud, marine veteran.
“I put in probably 60 hours a week,” said Tenenberg. “We do this 51 weeks out of the year. During Christmas, we stop and take a break.”
Roughly 22,000 care packages later, Si continues to work out of his house and garage. At one point, his operation was sending between 60-70 boxes every single week, but that number is now closer to 10 or 20; Volunteers haven’t been able to help pack boxes because of a health condition for Si, and donations from the community have lessened over the last year, leaving Si unsure of how the program will continue longterm.
“It kept me busy. It gave me a meaning to stay active during this time that COVID was here,” said Tenenberg.
Here’s how Si gets supplies to military members in need:
First, he needs to know who needs supplies, so military members will send emails like this one:
“They recently stopped serving some meals in our dining facility because of COVID. Any items you send us will be shared with our whole team. Thank you for thinking of us,” said Tenenberg.
Si and his team rely on donations and partnerships with local organizations to gather the supplies. They’re separated into labeled boxes, specific items are then packed into the care packages by volunteers, and picked up and taken to the post office to be mailed.
“It’s just very smoothly run in a very basic way. It just works,” said volunteer Gail Maysonave.
“I think Si’s military training helped with that because he’s obviously the one that started it,” said volunteer Nancy Duvall.
Monetary donations are essential to his operation with costs rising year after year.
“When I first started, it cost $8.70 to mail a box; now, it costs $20.40,” said Tenenberg. “That’s almost three times a price hike.”
Price hikes aside, as long as troops are overseas, Si will be serving in any way he can.
“It has to be somebody with the same passion that he has; to dedicate your whole life, your whole house, everything to it,” said Maysonave.
“I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to satisfy the needs of our deployed troops, but we’ll continue on as long as we have our great volunteers that help me, donations to be able to buy everything they ask for, and the will to keep our guys supplied,” said Tenenberg emotionally.
If you know someone stationed in a combat zone, reach out and give them Si’s contact information. Head to Si's website in order to donate.