Five years ago, if someone would have told Susan Manns she would someday receive Mother’s Day greetings from across the world, she would not have believed it. Manns and her husband were never able to have children of their own, nor adopt. But as a way to suppress the ache she felt, she “adopted” an American soldier overseas and sent him notes and gifts for encouragement.
This simple connection spawned into a much larger project than Manns ever anticipated, but for that she is grateful. During last month’s mailing, Treasures for Troops — the non-profit ministry of First Freewill Baptist Church of Kosciusko County, which was spurred by Manns’ “adoption” of that first soldier — sent packages to 384 deployed U.S. soldiers.
“It doesn’t have to be much, just something to remind them of home and close the miles. It make a bigger difference than people realize. It’s not so much about the stuff; it’s more about the connection,” said Manns, who requires each package to include personal notes for each soldier from donors back in the U.S.
Notes of gratitude for Manns, and to those who participate in Treasures for Troops, are received almost daily.
“At first, I didn’t realize just how much a reminder of home means to those overseas. They need to hear encouragement and be reminded of home and the holidays when they’re surrounded by desert. A message from home means so much,” she said.
Of the hundreds of notes thanking Treasures for Troops for the reminders from home, Manns hopes some of the most recent will encourage the community to continue their support of soldiers throughout the year:
“I told my troopers we may get one more shipment from Indiana and some of them literally came our of their seats, they were so excited. Thanks for taking such great care of us and taking so much time out of your lives to support us. We are truly blessed!” — Shane in Bagram, Afghanistan
“We received your wonderful Halloween trick-or-treat bags … you don’t know what a difference the generosity made in our morale today. I really appreciate it and I know the rest of our office does.” -— Mindy in Kabul, Afghanistan
“ … Fantastic job on bringing a little slice of home to such a horrible place. Everyone here really looks forward to the boxes every month and really appreciates the donation of love and time. You’ll never know how much something as simple as a box can mean in this place. Thank you very much.” — Sgt. Adams in Bagram, Afghanistan
“I just wanted to take a moment and pass on my personal thanks for the gracious support you’ve shown this office … A short note like this can’t really express what packages really mean, not only to the addressee, but to everyone who sees the support.” — Col. Bernardi
Treasures for Troops sends packages to deployed soldiers once per month. Currently, the group is gathering filled Christmas stockings to send overseas.
Stockings must be filled only with the specific items requested by Treasures for Troops, due to shipping cost and size requirement.
Each donor to Stockings for Soldiers is asked to fill a standard sized stocking with a 10- or 11-ounce bag of Reese’s cups, Hershey Kisses or Rolos; a 6- to 7-ounce bag of Combo snacks, any flavor; a package of six chocolate covered marshmallow Santas, snowmen or reindeer; and a plastic candy cane shaped cylinder of candy.
All stockings must include a personal note of thanks or encouragement in any form (a photo may also be included) and $2 to defray shipping costs.
All stockings must be received for mailing by Friday, Nov. 30, and can be dropped off at any of the following locations: Vein Institute and Medical Spa, Outdoor Living Center, Dr. William Myers Dental Office, Warsaw Community Public Library, all in Warsaw; and Mann’s Kountry Kitchen and the Silver Lake Post Office, both in Silver Lake.