HOWARD, Wis. (WFRV) – Back in May, Hannah Stillman and her husband decided to start a new family tradition: sending care packages to troops deployed overseas.
“We just wanted to do something special for them on Armed Forces Day, and start a tradition with our four and eight-year-old,” she explained.
Stillman’s husband had recently retired from the military.
She made a posting on Facebook, asking her connections for the address of anyone currently deployed overseas.
Bonnie Olson responded to the post.
“She messaged me back not even like ten seconds later, and she said, ‘call me,'” Stillman recalled, “and so I called her, and she said, ‘I have the perfect unit, and I have the whole unit.'”
Olson serves as a representative for the Fort Hood Garrison Chaplain’s Office.
“A lot of these soldiers don’t get anything while they’re deployed,” Olson told Local 5 over the phone. “It’s not that their family members don’t remember them, it’s just sometimes they struggle to make ends meet.”
Stillman and her family decided they wanted to come through for the unit.
“We ended up doing 210 total care packages,” she said, explaining that her husband’s experience helped determine the contents: “My husband was in the military for just under 13 years. He has a little insight as to what he’d like to receive when he was over there.”
That includes energy drinks and snacks, and cards hand crafted by kids.
“It reminds them of home, and it also reminds them of why they’re over there,” Stillman explained.
That’s where second-grade students at Forest Glen Elementary stepped in to help make 400 cards in that limited time frame.
“I emailed my son’s teacher, Kelly, and said, ‘any chance that your students would have any free time to do some cards or some letters?'” Stillman said.
It turns out they had enough time to make so many cards, each care package could include two.
“In a matter of 72 hours we were able to get everything we needed, so it was absolutely wonderful,” Stillman said.
6th Grade students from Crivitz also stepped up to help create enough cards for the care packages, which were assembled and shipped out to Afghanistan.
Olson told Local 5 she’s already heard rave reviews.
“I got a message, saying: ‘Thank everyone in Green Bay, packages have arrived, and that it couldn’t have been a better timing,”’ she said.
Stillman says her family plans on doing the same thing next year.
“It ended up being much bigger than we expected, but so easy to do with the help of our community,” she said.