As the holiday season quickly approaches, communities across the country are gearing up to give back.
This is certainly the case in Traverse City, MI, where a group of do-gooders is celebrating their 15th year in a row of adopting soldiers for Christmas. Each year, Traverse City Touching Hearts gathers donations from the community to ship to service members overseas in time for the holidays.
This year, donations will be sent to 250 soldiers aboard the U.S.S. Carney ship that�s docked in the Mediterranean Sea, near the Middle East.
Marilyn Dear, the organizer of the Adopt a Soldier for Christmas program, is always happily surprised at the annual outpouring of support each year in Traverse City.
�They�ve just been fabulous each year,� Dear told 9&10 News.
At the start of the season, the group places drop-off boxes in grocery stores, dentist offices and other businesses to gather donations for the care packages. The packages are then filled with toiletries, snacks and a few other small gifts to give the troops a little slice of home for the holidays. Students at local elementary schools write out cards to include in the packages, which Dear says are much appreciated.
�I think there were six different schools that wrote letters to the soldiers and they always love those because kids just say the funniest things,� Dear said.
Community members gathered together at a local church last weekend to pack the boxes and prepare them to ship overseas. This year, the group will send out 250 boxes full of treats and goodies for service members.
For Bensie Benghauser, who was on hand to help with the volunteer effort, the project is personal. Her daughter serves in the military and received a package from TC Touching Hearts in 2009, when she was stationed in Iraq.
�They were ecstatic,� Benghauser said. �It was a piece of home and the smells of the candy and the powder and the wipes. It just reminded them of home, and it was such a tangible connection.�
The community plans to send out the packages in December so that they arrive to the troops a few days before Christmas.
There are many ways to get involved with America�s Adopt a Soldier program, and not just during the holiday season. You can host an activity or event, collect items for donation or make a donation. You can also sign up for a volunteer opportunity near you.
Let�s #StartSomethingGood together.
(Source: images TC Touching Hearts Facebook)