Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, I teamed-up with KTTS Morning Show listeners to send local soldiers simple gifts from home; small tokens of appreciation to demonstrate our thanks for their willingness to serve. Originally, we thought simple shoeboxes would serve our shipping needs. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
The outpouring of support was mind-blowing.
Just a few weeks into the initial drive, we were completely overwhelmed with shoeboxes from across the region – all stuffed with everything from wet-wipes, chewing gum and batteries to copies of the local paper, pictures colored by local school kids, and socks – tons of socks. It was amazing.
We quickly learned that the most efficient way to send to APO and FPO addresses was to use flat-rate Priority boxes from the US Postal Service, but the name stuck: “Shoeboxes for Soldiers” held drives twice a year for the duration of my run at KTTS.
By the time I retired in September of 2011, the outreach was run by a local soldier’s mother – an incredibly compassionate and dedicated woman, Rhonda Luttrell. She was joined by a local farmer – who just happened to be a retired First Sergeant from an elite special operations helicopter aviation unit. Between her coordination, his tireless motivation and assets, and Family Pharmacy’s infrastructure – with locations covering a 100-miles radius, they provided all of the local collection sites, transportation of those donations, even warehouse space – the biannual effort became a well-run “business.” Thousands of Priority boxes found their way to unsuspecting soldiers, packed with gifts and thank you letters from home.
My thanks to Mediacom Newsleaders for helping me promote the Christmas effort in November of 2010.
It is with a heavy heart that I share this news: Dustin Hudson has died. A member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1/506 Infantry Division, it was Spc. Hudson’s first deployment to Afghanistan that resonates so loudly here in the Ozarks… Dustin was the spark who ignited the flame that became “Shoeboxes for Soldiers.” […]Read More