Our troops overseas will feel our support this holiday season.
Thanks to volunteers and our generous NBC Connecticut viewers, 1,204 care packages were wrapped and shipped off to our heroes Saturday.
It's all part an effort dedicated to thanking the men and women who serve.
It's a simple mission with a profound impact: putting smiles on our troops' faces by sending them care packages.
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That's what Boxes to Boots has done since 2015, starting with 250 boxes. Today, that number has grown to more than 1,200.
"It's very heartwarming, and it's emotional," said Vietnam Vet Clifford Cote.
Cote was among hundreds of volunteers Saturday at McGee Middle School in Berlin showing his support.
"When we came home, we never got the welcome we deserved, and for these troops to get this, I hope it goes a long way," Cote said.
Like Cote, others were busy wrapping snacks, games, and toiletries, putting them into boxes to be shipped to troops around the world, including in Africa, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, just to name a few.
"You know, they have their buddies, but they miss their families, and we miss them," said Michael Carrier, of New Britain.
Michael and Rita Carrier's two sons serve in the Air Force in Italy and U.S. Army in Iraq. They came out to Boxes to Boots to send them and their base a little holiday cheer.
They also had special help from their grandson, who plans to visit his father after a long 10 months. His uncle will be able to come home shortly after Christmas.
"What they're doing now, it's just amazing. We're truly proud of them," said Rita Carrier.
Inside their care package, soldiers overseas will find a personalized note and picture of the volunteers that put it together.
"When I first started volunteering, I said to myself, 'wow, it's so hard to thank a service member' and this is it. Come in, wrap a care package, and feel like you're making a difference," said Boxes to Boots President Kristen Gauvin.
While collections for this holiday season are complete, Boxes to Boots donations are accepted year-round.