With the Holidays comes a sense of goodness; people smiling more, Christmas music playing in all the stores and bell ringers in front of their red buckets. Children all on their best behavior hoping that Santa brings them that one favorite thing they have been wishing for all year.
For many, the holidays may bring loneliness being so far from home.
Our men and women in uniform won’t hear or see the things we do this holiday season. They may see children playing in the streets with the remnants of a car bomb. They may be walking down streets on constant alert for insurgents and the only sound they hear are their dusty boots on the streets and the click of a radio. They may hear the telltale sound of an incoming mortar round and take cover.
Myself and Laurie Davis co-chair Project Support Our Troops, sponsored by the Welcome Home Association, Post 52 in Meadville PA. We have talked with our men and women serving our country, written countless letters and emails and have shipped over 40,000 packages over the 15 years of this Project.
Over the years, we have received countless letters from our men and women in uniform thanking us for the packages filled with things they normally would be unable to get. They have thanked us for our support, our generosity and the fact that we care enough about them, even though we may have never met them. We do none of this for recognition or thanks. We do this for those who serve our country around the globe, because they deserve it and because we care.
Project Support Our Troops is a passion for us and our entire veteran family within Post 52. This month we will be packing close to 1000 boxes in two days. It is always a bit hectic, stressful and chaotic but it is also incredibly rewarding, fun and humbling. So many people coming together in one big loud mess over two evenings to pack boxes to ship out by the end of the week, know we are doing something worthwhile and that we are all a part of our “veteran family”.
We send approximately 100 boxes each month of the year and have for 15 years now; but at Christmas we crank it up and send out to as many people as we can, knowing that it truly does make a difference to those receiving a box, especially those who may not receive much if any mail.
You may be surprised just how many of those who serve our country do not receive mail at all.
Last year, we heard from a young man in the Navy that two of his comrades receive no mail at all. They were on their second deployment overseas and had never received one letter or package from anyone “back home”.
Our thoughts upon hearing this were “This will just not do”, so we put the word out, gathered up supplies and were able to ship off 6 boxes to those two young men, three boxes for each.
A couple of months later, we heard from our contact in the Navy that those two young men had received their packages and he shared that the look of surprise on their faces when their names were called for mail were almost comical, but when they each received three boxes, their expression turned to one of confusion and happiness. They each opened their boxes like “kids on Christmas day”. Later in the year, we received two of the nicest thank you letters we have ever received from those two young men.
That is what it is all about, letting our men and women serving our country know that they are thought of and prayed for each day. They are not forgotten and will not be on our watch. There are those of us who have served our country and know the feeling of being far from home, sending a few boxes of “home” is the least we can do for those serving now, knowing they deserve much more.
For those of you who are “home”, may your holidays be blessed with laughter and love. For those of you who may have loved ones serving far from home, know that all of us on this side of the pond are thinking of you and wishing you all the best this Christmas Season.
May God Bless America and those who defend her.
Kim Lengling, Author, currently Co-Chair’s Project Support Our Troops and is Co-Founder of Embracing Our Veterans. You can reach Kim at [email protected] or visit www.embracingourveterans.org to learn more.