LISLE - This weekend, the nation will remember members of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice.
In west suburban Lisle, there is an army of supporters who provide comfort and care to those who are currently serving our country.
It is a line behind the front line. Volunteers assemble care packages for troops serving in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim. Each box is stuffed with 25 pounds of surprises from home.
Scott Maxson is the Executive Director of Operation Support Our Troops-America. He says the boxes include hygiene kits, flip-flops, baby wipes, snacks, candy, "and things that can break the monotony of the world like games, comic books, and decks of cards."
The pandemic created shortages. However, Maxson says the least expensive, but most valuable thing in the box, is a letter written by a child. Because scout troops and school clubs did not gather, the letters and pictures are scarce. The soldiers do receive blank cards and pens so they can write to people.
Operation Support Our Troops-America has shipped more than 2 million pounds of comfort to troops around the world, funded partially by sales of American flags, which will be posted in a field of honor in LaGrange in June. The sponsor gets to keep the flag, the pole and a commemorative dog tag.
Gold Star Families volunteered their time. Ralph and Linda Grieco sent a care package to their son Kevin in 2008, when he served in Afghanistan.
"He was excited, there was so much in the box and he knew it was packed with love," Linda said.
One month later, 35-year old Kevin Grieco was killed in a bombing. His family suffered the ultimate sacrifice and yet, they’re still dedicated to service. His father, Ralph Grieco, says he makes care packages because he knows that his son would want his parents to help out soldiers because Kevin had a bond with the troops.
"At the end it is all about the love that goes into that box and caring, trying to show those deployed we care for them and appreciate the sacrifices they're making," said Maxson, who served in the military.
Each package has enough for a soldier to share with 10 other people. The soldiers send messages and pictures back, which makes the volunteers feel even more grateful.
To help make care packages or to donate, go to the website for Operation Support Our Troops-America: https://www.osotamerica.org/ways-to-give/donate/