It all started with one soldier and an angel.
In 2003, Staff Sergeant Brandon Varn was on deployment in Iraq. His mom, Patti Patton-Bader, would send him care packages often. Coming from a long line of military men going back to General Patton, Patton-Bader had the utmost respect for servicemen (and, of course, a loving mother’s instincts). When Varn informed his mother that he was one of the few soldiers receiving care packages, she decided she had to do something about it.
“Patti gathered some friends and neighbors and they began sending packages to his whole platoon,” said Michelle Julazadeh Chavarin, Marketing and Communications Director of Soldiers’ Angels.
As more and more requests came for care packages, Patton-Bader’s operation slowly morphed into the Soldiers’ Angels we know today.
A system was built that matched the needs of soldiers to people back home who wanted to send care packages. They had skills like quilt making, baking or letter writing, but most importantly — they had the desire to help our troops.
“Within just a few months, Soldiers’ Angels went from a dedicated mother sending a few extra care packages and letters, to an internet community with thousands of Angels worldwide,” Chavarin said.
“May No Soldier Go Unloved”
Now, Soldiers’ Angels offers a wide variety of services. They’re geared toward deployed troops, military families, wounded heroes and veterans of all eras.
Boots-on-the-ground programs help disadvantaged veterans in cities across the nation, and their virtual teams use skills like baking, sewing and letter writing to fulfill the duty that their organization began with. Additionally, as one of the few nonprofits with a voting seat on the VA National Advisory Council, Soldiers’ Angels volunteers are scattered throughout more than 35 VA Hospitals.
One of the goals of Soldiers’ Angels is to show gratitude for our service members by assisting their families on the holidays.
“Military and veteran families usually live on a very tight budget, so putting together a Christmas or other winter holiday celebration can be a real challenge for some of them,” Chavarin stated.
The Adopt-A-Family program is made possible by individuals or businesses who want to make the holidays special for a military family. They can “adopt” a family, and become responsible for providing gifts for the children, and a grocery gift card for their holiday meal.
The cost of participating in this program varies based on family size. Gifts for the children generally range from $35 to $50, and the grocery gift card ranges from $50 to $100. Because this can be a large financial commitment, Soldiers’ Angels has created a GoFundMe campaign for any families that may not have been adopted.
“The impact on our military and veteran families is huge,” Chavarin remarked. “Many of them have trouble just putting food on the table, so the stress of providing gifts for their children during the holidays can be very overwhelming.”
In 2017, over 1,220 families were supported through the Adopt-A-Family program.
This included 3,218 children. With all that military families endure while their service member protects our country, a great way to give back is to make their holidays something worth celebrating.
With focus and dedication over the past 15 years, Soldiers’ Angels has grown into an organization that influences the lives of millions of service members, veterans and families each year. They have certainly lived up to their trademarked vision:
“May No Soldier Go Unloved,
May No Soldier Walk Alone,
May No Solder Be Forgotten,
Until They All Come Home.”
To contribute to the mission of Soldiers’ Angels, donate at: https://soldiersangels.org/donate.html
You can find volunteer opportunities here: https://soldiersangels.org/volunteer-opportunities.html