Montana Soldiers Welcome Caring Arrivals from Home
This year, Hannah Burlingham spent more than most seventh-graders on Carmex, deodorant and socks. But don’t worry, it’s not for her! Last November, the Ravalli Republic wrote that Hannah’s postage bill had skyrocketed: she had just sent 15 care packages to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But that was just the beginning... Thirteen-year-old Hannah was
This year, Hannah Burlingham spent more than most seventh-graders on Carmex, deodorant and socks. But don’t worry, it’s not for her! Last November, the Ravalli Republic wrote that Hannah’s postage bill had skyrocketed: she had just sent 15 care packages to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But that was just the beginning... Thirteen-year-old Hannah was looking for ideas for a community service project.
Friends, family and members of her 4-H club (the Bitterroot Saddlebusters!) helped her round up names and addresses of Montana troops stationed far from home. I wanted to send something to them to thank them for their service. I thought 100 packages would be really hard, so I decided to make that my goal,” she said. Along with handy personal care items, the gifts included Montana postcards, yummy treats and warm wishes. Some Montana businesses (like High Country Jerky and Montana Magazine) donated items, but Hannah mostly bought goodies, partly so they’d fit in her boxes. At just under $30 each, it took $3,000 to send 100 boxes!
Folks were eager to help. Hannah raised the money by setting up a booth at public events and giving presentations to clubs and organizations. “After each package I get a ton of letters,” said Hannah. “The letters bring tears to my eyes because they talk about how they have children and wives and families here, and how the stuff in the package reminds them of home,” said Hannah. She also gets letters from folks who have heard about her project. Some are full of thanks and encouragement and some contain checks to help her continue her work!
The 100th package left Hannah’s hands just before Easter, but she didn’t stop packing those socks, magazines and treats. Hannah’s parents, Scott and Libby, said that it doesn’t look like she’s going to. “We got just one letter saying, ‘Boy these folks are sure homesick, can you send some more?’” said Scott, “and Hannah said, ‘Dad, I don’t see how we can quit.’” “Some of them write about how beautiful it is here in Montana and how lucky their families are to live in a free country,” said Hannah.