Volunteers pack up presents for children of deployed soldiers
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -
The families of many area soldiers are preparing for a bittersweet holiday season -- trying to celebrate while their loved one is serving overseas.
A local business is working to make the season a little brighter for children of the recently deployed Iowa Army National Guard, Company C, 2-211 GSAB MEDIVAC unit.
US Navy Veteran Anna Showers understands the challenge of going through the holidays when someone special is thousands of miles away.
"It's difficult. It's difficult for the kids who maybe don't get to see that soldier that may be deployed for a year. And worry, and watch the news. That's a huge burden for them," said Showers.
In her role as general manager at the Cedar Falls AmericInn Lodge and Suites, she gets to help these kids through a tough time with a special holiday gift.
"Last year we sent out 196 boxes. But that was people that you're never going to see. This year it's hometown. Hometown heroes," said Showers.
The hometown heroes she's talking about, members of the 2-211 MEDIVAC unit, are currently serving a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, local families and businesses donated stuffed animals, books, and games for the soldiers' children. Wednesday afternoon, volunteers began to put the gift bags together.
Along with the other presents, each child is getting a teddy bear which was stuffed by a volunteer and outfitted with a t-shirt baring a custom message for the receiving child.
"I think a bear symbolizes everything. The hugs, the kisses, the misses. That's what this bear is about," said Showers.
Showers is humbled to think the gifts will put a smile on a brave child's face, and she's looking forward to continuing the effort as long as it is needed.
"Next year, only bigger. To where we have to rent out somebody's warehouse!" she said.
The Cedar Falls AmericInn still needs volunteers to help stuff bears and put together the gift bags. If you'd like to help, give them a call at 319-277-6166.
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