14,000 in 14 years: Hartford woman aims to make sure soldiers receive packages this holiday season
HARTFORD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- You don't always know your calling until it happens, but a Hartford woman says she's blessed to have found hers.
She's spent 14 years trying to make the holidays merry and bright for members of active duty. CBS 58 shows us how "Support the Troops Wisconsin" is doing just that.
It may not look like it from the outside but this donated space in Hartford is where a lot of Wisconsin holiday magic happens for those who are overseas.
"I will knock on wood, my my kids did eight deployments and they came home every time. some peoples kids don’t come home," said LeAnn Boudwine, founder of Support the Troops.
Sacrifice takes on a different meaning when you've watched your loved ones fight for our country.
"My own family has missed funerals, weddings, births, many many holidays," said Boudwine.
With every missed day, Boudwine wants to bring one more smile.
"Let this be the highlight of their day," said Boudwine.
"It's going for a good cause, it's going back to veterans, showing that you respect and honor the younger generation that's fighting for your country," said Daniel Paulkutzke, trustee, VFW Hartford Post 8834.
Boudwine and her hardworking volunteers have shipped almost 14,000 care packages in 14 years.
The growing operation was inspired by her sons' heartbreaking memories of their military colleagues.
"I couldn't imagine somebody being at mail call and not getting a package and this is where this passion comes from," said Boudwine.
Each one is filled with food, toiletries, you name it -- that's all been donated, and a poem to bring a bit of Wisconsin to the rest of the world.
"It's probably a big surprise cause it's stuff they need basically and they ain't getting it," said Paulkutzke.
Daniel Paulkutzke walks in parades to help raise money for Boudwine's cause, because he understands firsthand the value one box can have.
"When I was over in Nam, my parents and my uncle sent me care packages which always came around Christmastime," said Paulkutzke.
The postage money is now donated as well. More than $7,000 for the 400 packages mailed during the holiday season.
"On behalf of the VFW Hartford Post 8834 we have a donation of $600 for you for the care packages," Paulkutzke said.
"Thank you," said Boudwine. "This is a lot of money for a lot of care packages."
It's a seemingly small sacrifice compared to the missed weddings, birthdays and Christmases.
"This box would be ready to go," Boudwine said.
Support the Troops operates year-round. If you'd like to help out their cause, CLICK HERE.