When Wisconsin mom LeAnn Boudwine's two sons Michael and David were serving in the military, they told her something that changed her life forever.
They told their mom how thankful they were for her care packages, because some of their friends never received packages, or even mail from home. That really resonated with Boudwine, because she didn't want anyone in our military to feel like they were forgotten. She started organizing her friends to prepare care packages for military members.
Boudwine started a charity called Support the Troops out of her basement, with the help of a small team of volunteers and her family members. Her organization's slogan was "they're still there, we still care," and her goal was to remind America's military that we're thinking of them here at home.
The packages include things like candy, DVDs, grooming supplies, warm clothes, holiday items, local newspapers, card games, and supportive letters from school kids. "All of those little things that we take for granted in our daily lives,” as Boudwine puts it.
Now, 10 years after her project began, Support the Troops has moved out of Boudwine's basement, and the military mom's project has just reached a major milestone.
This month, just in time for the holiday season, Support the Troops mailed its 10,000th care package.
"It started small," Boudwine told The Daily News about her charity, "but the more we heard how much it meant to these heroes to know that people back home had not forgotten about them, the more it keep growing and growing. We never thought we'd still be doing it, but there are so few groups like ours that it would break our hearts to stop."
The charity now has dozens of dedicated volunteers, and lots of room for packages in the basement of a local business. But Boudwine still takes time from her bookkeeping job to pack boxes two days a week.
And if you ask what kept Boudwine going throughout the last decade, the answer is simple. "Soldiers tell us how good it makes them feel to know that we are thinking about them," she says. "I get teary just thinking about it."
Support the Troops will send care packages to active duty military members in any service or location. To learn more about the charity visit their website.
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