Our Army Family Relocation Specialists would like to salute some of the many outstanding charities and organizations that serve our military community along with their families and past or present service members. We think the story of Give 2 the Troops is told best by founder Andi Grant.
In December of 2002, my husband, Brian (Sgt in USMC) and his fellow Marine Reservists received their one-year deployment orders for Operation Iraqi Freedom. As he packed and attended briefings, I decided that I, too, needed to do something for the troops. I couldn’t sit back for a year and be a “spectator” – I needed to do something to show my support.
I vowed to write my husband daily and send him anything he needed. But I was also concerned about troops who didn’t receive mail from family or friends – I was worried about their morale. I wanted to make sure every deployed troop felt remembered, appreciated and loved.
I had military friends who were already deployed for OIF and I sent them care packages, but wanted to do more. Then a few groups who supported our troops asked me to send care packages to some of their contacts. My list of 50 troops grew to several hundred pretty quickly.
Sending the packages helped take my mind off of worrying about my husband, and helped me feel as if I was contributing in some small way to boosting our troops’ morale. It was the least I could do.
My 10-year-old son, Ryan, was very worried about my husband. I knew he needed to be involved to help him cope. I contacted his elementary school, choir and friends and everyone was ecstatic to help. Word spread quickly and cards and donations for the troops arrived daily at our doorstep. Sometimes it took hours to bring all the donations inside. Many nights, I’d come home from work to find 18-wheeler trucks with pallets of donations sitting in my driveway! Hundreds of strangers arrived each night to help us carry the donations to my tiny basement, where we’d pack boxes for our troops. Boxes were stacked up to our ceiling. Our tables and chairs were covered with bags of donations. It was hard to find a spot to sit or eat. It was unreal, but it was great.
The more troops who wrote back to us, the more packages we sent. Word about our care packages spread quickly amongst deployed troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. Families contacted us asking if we could assist their loved ones, and we added those troops to our lists. Our first month, we sent 129 enormous boxes to more than 4,000 troops. The next month, we sent out 232 boxes. And it has continued on …
What started out as a personal project evolved into an ongoing community effort. More elementary schools, middle schools and universities joined us. People from other states began calling asking how they could help. Donations came in from all over the nation and even other countries! It was very heartwarming to know so many people care about our troops and want to support them. The support my son and I received from our community while Brian was deployed, helped us get through a very tough year. There are no words to express my gratitude for the love we received and all the support given to our family and our troops.
In June, 2004, I selected the name “Give2TheTroops” for our organization and we became incorporated in the State of Connecticut. Shortly thereafter, I opened branches in other states. Our goal is to show our troops that communities in every state support and appreciate them. We are fortunate to have many GIVE2THETROOPS volunteers and donors from all over the United States (and the globe) who help us continue our Mission.
Some people asked why I continued to lead our Mission after Brian returned home from his deployment. My answer is simple:
“Brian returned safely to us – not a hair on his head was harmed. Many families were not as fortunate as we are. We still have many troops in harm’s way and families who are anxious – this is my payback to all those troops and their families.”
This article is offered for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of a legal, real estate or military professional. We know moving is difficult. That’s why we created this network of GoArmyHomes websites to help smooth your family’s PCS move. Each site focuses on a particular post and gives you access to Army Family Relocation Specialists (whether for purchase or rental) who know the area and can help you find the home of your dreams as you embark on your next PCS move or off Post. Currently GoArmyHomes sites are available for those who have a PCS move to, or relocating to, or moving off post from Fort Carson, Fort Jackson, Fort Dix, Fort Campbell, Fort Belvoir, Shaw AFB, Fort Belvoir, Fort Bragg, Eglin AFB, and Fort Eustis.
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