Life is never easy for soldiers who have been deployed overseas.
They live and work in inhospitable climates and dangerous situations, frequently in fear for their lives, deprived of most of the comforts of home, including decent bedding, essential sanitary items like deodorant, toothpaste, and soap, and things to relieve the boredom, like magazines and music.
But no lack is felt more keenly than that of the love and support of family and friends. Recognizing this need, just before America entered the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought together a group of national service organizations under one title, the United Services Organization, or USO, dedicated to taking care of raising the morale of American military forces deployed overseas.
The USO has over two hundred centers worldwide where members of the military can connect with loved ones in a comfortable setting via the internet or phone, play a video game, watch a movie or TV, or just relax. But the USO can’t be everywhere, and many deployed troops do not have ready access to their services.
It is this deprivation that makes mailed care packages such an essential part of boosting the morale of troops in foreign lands, because they don’t just provide rarely-accessible treats, like homemade cookies or real beef jerky, and luxury items like handheld game consoles or iPods.
They also provide reminders of what the soldiers are fighting to protect, what’s waiting for them when the fighting is over, and the job is done.
It is the letters and pictures from home, the reminders that people are waiting and hoping and praying for their safe return, which gives the most significant uplift to the soul.
But sadly, not every member of the military gets those precious packaged lifelines. That’s where LeAnn Boudwine comes in. Boudwine has become a godsend for deployed members of the military.
After learning that not all soldiers receive care packages, she immediately set out to rectify that. With two sons of her own in the military, she understood the importance of receiving items that meet basic sanitary and clothing needs, as well as letters and cards of support and good wishes, and wanted to help those active members of the armed forces who weren’t getting them.
So, she gathered a group of her friends, and they began collecting goods and putting together care packages in Boudwine’s basement and mailing them to soldiers overseas.
A completely selfless act, Boudwine, and her friends’ generosity helped make these soldiers’ lives more bearable in the face of adversity.
That was ten years ago, and now her act of kindness has expanded into a national movement, Support Our Troops, a charity that has sent more than 10,000 care packages to American troops worldwide. With the help of her friends, as well as a host of volunteers – many who are veterans themselves – Boudwine’s dream of helping soldiers has become a reality, proving that all you need to make a difference is the ability to see a need in someone else and the willpower to help them.
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Photo Courtesy of Good News Network (www.goodnewsnetwork.com)