Four years ago, Colin O’Brien sent a care package during the holiday season to a friend in the military in Iraq. The small token included a soccer ball and a few sundry items.
He mentioned it to fellow members at Grapevine Masonic Lodge No. 288 and the Grapevine Independent Order of Odd Fellow No. 492, among others, and the next year 12 packages went out to troops serving abroad.
Last year, the word spread and the tally grew to 74 boxes.
One box went to Amanda Lohmann, then an Air Force police security officer stationed overseas. The niece of Fred Lohmann, secretary of the Grapevine Masonic Lodge, was thrilled, he said.
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“She told us how nice it was to get these personal items,” Lohmann said. “It’s a piece of home when you’re away overseas.”
This year, volunteers from the Grapevine Masonic Lodge, Grapevine Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Grapevine Elks Lodge No. 2483, Grapevine Senior Citizens Center and Little Country Daycare Preschool in Haslet mailed 180 cartons containing Christmas gifts to American service personnel stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
The boxes contained beef jerky and other snacks, socks, gloves, batteries, magazines, books, chocolates, razor blades, hand lotion, shampoo and conditioner, toothpicks and other goodies.
Sure to be popular keepsakes are the messages of gratitude from students at Little Country Daycare Preschool in Haslet. O’Brien’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Gabby, goes there and the school encouraged the children to send personal notes. Not all were old enough to write, but a hand print was sure to make the recipient smile.
“We’ve just got to give back to them people in the field and wish them a merry Christmas,” Colin said of his efforts to honor those who serve in the armed forces.
Echoing Lohmann’s sentiments, O’Brien said: “It’s a little piece of home.”