Community packs up love and care items for troops overseas

NEW BRITAIN --  In the spirit of giving, many people spent Thanksgiving wrapping up the holiday spirit for our troops.

The New Britain VFW was packed with people spending the holiday honoring our soliders in a special way, wrapping up care packages.

The goal behind the annual event is for the community to wrap up care items and gifts to send overseas to United States military members.

Organizer Karen Cote came up with the idea three years ago when she was putting together her own care package for her son, serving in the United States Army.

“My son is deployed again for the holidays,” Cote said. “I talked to him on the phone today and he said that the holidays are the hardest time and I told him about the care packages and he said mom I can’t even tell you how important it is for these soldiers to get these boxes.”

The first year of the event, the group packed up 100 boxes, the following year, 125 and this year Cote said 250 care packages will be shipped to a Connecticut soldier deployed to Kuwait, for the holidays.

“I was in Iraq last year I’ll be in Afghanistan in the beginning of next year,” United States Army soldier Anthony Gagliardi said. “You’re in a different country, everything's different, you don’t really have anything from home and opening that package getting a taste of home some candy, some treats, a card, really nice to get that feel of home something you’ve been missing for months."

Each box gets filled with food items, toiletries, movies, a card, and a piece of home for our soldiers.

For some families, like Briant Chant’s, this event is a Thanksgiving tradition.

“My dad actually served in Desert Storm and he was in the navy so it's a big part of my family,” Chant said. “It's nice to help out as much as I can.”

The organizer said her mission is to spread love and she is amazed each year at the turnout of community members, veterans and active military.

“It's more than a community, it's Connecticut,” she said. “We’ve got Branford, we got Simsbury, we got Farmington we got New Britain we got Newington, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, it's huge, absolutely huge.”

She said different businesses and organizations have pitched in including Colvest Realty Group, which donated a building for the month of November for her to collect and sort items. The Ryan T. Lee Foundation is paying for 200 boxes to be mailed, as well.

Cote’s plan is to keep the event going every single year.