With all the disconcerting news we see on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to realize that there are people — glimmers of hope — who bring warmth, decency, and gratitude into the world. Kathleen Lewis is one of these people.
Kathleen has a son who, like so many sons and daughters, was motivated to serve his country after the 9/11 attacks. He did the honorable thing. The thing that I didn’t do. He joined the Army.
In 2004, Kathleen’s son was deployed to Iraq. Worried for his safety, Kathleen decided to do everything she could to make him feel at home as he served in a combat zone a world away. She sent snacks, gifts, and things that spoke to the life that he had left behind. Her son, though thankful for the kindness, pointed out that not everyone in his unit had the same support from home.
Packages From Home Founder Kathleen Lewis with a soldier
What started as a mother taking care of her son has turned into a burgeoning organization that serves tens of thousands of servicemen and women – both active-duty and veterans. Packages From Home’s mission now focuses on four main programs:
- Packages From Home– Sending care and comfort packages containing needed food, hygiene, and recreation supplies to internationally-deployed U.S. troops, from every branch of the military.
- Packages For Hope– Providing needed food and hygiene items to Arizona veterans who are homeless, at-risk, or in transition. Packages From Home works with the VA and many local charitable partners to locate and provide for the veterans we serve.
- Bones From Home– Supplying needed military-approved food, grooming, toy, and training products to military working dogs and their handlers, and also supplying needed canine items to veteran service and companion dogs.
- Operation ThunderBox– Supplying Luke Air Force Base personnel with food, hygiene, and recreation items needed for pre- and post-deployment.
When Sarah Morrison, Packages From Home’s Director of Fundraising & Communications, and one of the leaders of this tight-knit team, reached out to Boxed, it was fortune that brought her to Justin Merolla – a veteran and member of our team who still serves in the USMC reserves. As I write this, Justin is on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst serving as both the Logistics Officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 472 and the Motor Transportation Platoon Commander. As a veteran, Justin understood the importance of Packages From Home’s mission and wanted to do everything he could to help.
When Sarah called, she had a problem that needed solving – a good problem. For her next event, her team needed three times the supplies that they had ordered previously. Other wholesale clubs couldn’t serve them quickly. Justin, honored to support Packages From Home and their outstanding mission, dropped everything he was doing and immediately coordinated with the adjacent merchandising team in order to make sure the order could be fulfilled in full. Our warehouse team pulled all the requested products, triple-checked the quantities, tightly shrink-wrapped them, and staged the items for transport. Our transportation team teed up the required trucking assets based on the delivery deadline and receiving capabilities at each delivery location. In the end, all product was delivered flawlessly and on time for the event.
Kathleen’s desire to help her son led to the creation of an organization that benefits tens of thousands of servicemen and women every year. Sarah’s call to Boxed helped the Packages From Home team not only save, but strengthen their relationship with their biggest sponsor while simultaneously increasing support to U.S. military personnel by more than 300 percent of what they originally anticipated. How many more people can be helped by answering a simple call? In this case, it was more than 700 Americans bravely serving overseas. And the best part is that Packages From Home’s sponsor was so impressed with the 2017 event that they have already committed to supporting another 3,000 care packages in November 2018. If you would like to learn more about Packages From Home or donate to the cause, please visit http://www.PackagesFromHome.org.
Tell a friend about what they do. Share their story. Ask your company to help sponsor them and others who bring this kind of light. No one drop starts a flood, but if all of us respond to people like Kathleen Lewis and the team that drives Packages from Home with kindness and support, we can make a difference.
A soldier and her best friend receive care packages
Top photo: The 993rd Medical Detachment in Afghanistan
Photo credit: Packages From Home