Word of Thanks

Please send your comments to FreedomSteps5k@gmail.com and we will post them as quickly as possible.

1stLt. Shaun Hall – US Marines stationed on USS Bataan

“I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for the care packages you and your VFW post have sent while I have been deployed.  Both packages were well received by Marines and were very thoughtful and actually very useful (your packages had the greatest variety of snacks and goods of any of the care packages we received).  I hope you had a merry Christmas, and again, thank you for your support.” (December 2011) 

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AC3 Thomas Gounaris – US Navy stationed on USS Bataan

“I received your care package today from the Freedom Steps benefit. Thank you very much; it’s the first package I have received in about 3 months. We had about 100 pallets of mail come in today which I was praying I would receive something in the mail, so when I got your package it was really thoughtful and really nice. I will be using the freedom steps T-shirt as one of my workout shirts and the other one I gave to my buddy on board who will do the same. There were definitely a lot of useful items in the package, I did just run out of deodorant so the 3 deodorant sticks are a big plus, The spice cookies are some of my favorites, and I did need some more batteries for my x-box controllers. This package really helped me out and I wanted to let you know that I appreciate you guys caring about us lost way out here in the middle of the ocean.” (September 2011)

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SFC Colleen Thompson – US Army stationed in Ethiopia

“We got your care packages here in Ethiopia!  Thanks so much!!!  I wanted to tell you… it is SO funny you are in Willow Grove… my Dad, Joe Kenney, was part of the Hatfield post (American Legion & VFW) for years, and worked and drilled at Willow Grove NAS.  I am originally from Philly, but live in MN now.  My Dad died in 96, so it is doubful anyone remembers him, but I like to think this was his little way of saying “Hi” to me.  I do 5K’s and would love to try to make it out, sometime to run with you guys.  Thanks again for caring! We love you all!  I hope you have a great 4th of July.” (July 2011)

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Capt. Jared Auchey – US Army stationed in Afghanistan

“On behalf of the Tactical Operations left-West, 2nd Brigade (Warhorse), 4th Infantry Division, we want to personally thank you and Freedom Steps for adopting our unit…. It truly means a lot to our unit that Freedom Steps is willing to adopt us, and we greatly appreciate your support.” 

” We greatly appreciated the box that we received today. It means a lot to know that we have the support of people back home. The little things truly do matter and are appreciated greatly.” (June 2011)

“We wanted to thank you for the boxes that we received.  I cannot describe how gracious we are for your kindness.” (September 2011)

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Lt. Col. Ralph Williams – US Army stationed in Afghanistan

“Thank you so much for the care package. I was very surprised to know that the VWF even knew of my being in Afghanistan. I will share this expression of love with my comrades in arms and tell them of the great
work you are doing for the war fighter. This is a wonderful thing you are doing. You brought a huge smile on my face.” (June 2011)

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Capt. Stephen Kraus – US Army stationed in Iraq

“Thanks so much for the ridiculously large care package you and the rest of the Freedom Steps team put together and shipped out to me!  I just received it today and it has an awesome selection of useful toiletries, goodies, reading material, and love included that will be put to good use by myself and the other guys here as well.  It’s nice to know that folks back home, especially from the local community, continue to support those deployed. Thanks again and I know my little brother loves to participate in the 5K run there through Mason’s Mill and the Watershed trails.  I can’t wait to run there myself when I get home.” (June 2011)
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SSgt John Wolf – PA Air National Guard

“I am a Staff Sergeant in the 111th Security Forces Squadron at Willow Grove ARS. My wife Nicole has participated in the freedom steps 5K in 2010-2011. In 2010 I was deployed to Manas Kyrgyzstan with my unit and received a care package from your post while deployed. I wanted to thank you for all you do for us troops while deployed. Getting a surprise package with goodies inside is always a welcomed treat and really brightens the week. Moral can sometimes be pretty low in a place like Manas where mail only arrive once to twice a month.” (May 2011)

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Sgt Jesse Stence – US Marines stationed in Afghanistan

“So far, your care package is the best I’ve seen! Seriously, the Christmas ornaments were a great touch. The public affairs office is now the indisputable marquee of Yule Tide cheer for all of Regimental Combat Team 1!!” (Dec. 20, 2010)

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Cpt Seth Power – US Army stationed in Iraq

Thank you very much for the box of Christmas stuff. Haha, I couldn’t imagine what in the world was in a box that size, or who it was from when I walked into the mail room. Good job on the packing/taping, it managed to hold together just enough to get to me. We actually didn’t fly because of the weather the night I got your package, and before I knew it 3 of my guys had Christmas lights draped over their head stapling them up around our TOC. Haha some of our senior warrant officers who I would never have expected to start decorating the place had the candy cane and garland out stapling and hanging it to the lights. I was half worried we were going to burn the place down with the number of lights we put up and them all going into one 220v outlet. The electricity is a little funky so I was just waiting to see 500 white lights burst when we plugged it in. Luckily, we were in business.” (Dec. 11, 2010)

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EO3 Shannon Kelley – US Navy stationed in Afghanistan

“I would like to thank you for the care package I received. I am enjoying many of the supplies sent and shared it with my fellow Seabees.”

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Cpt Rob Beale – US Army stationed in Iraq

“Thank you so much for the two boxes full of great items for my soldiers. We really appreciated of you all back in PA and the soldiers really appreciated the items. I was especially excited to see the items from the Willow Grove VFW…reminded me a lot of home. A few of my soldiers are from the are and they’re familiar with Willow Grove. It was nice to get a small piece of home all the way over here. As a lifetime member of the VFW, I appreciate the support!”

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SSgt Michael Banchi – US Army stationed in Kuwait/Iraq

“I just wanted to thank you and everyone who participated in the walk for sending me the huge care packages full of things. I couldn’t believe all the stuff you were able to fit in those two boxes. I took some things for myself and then put the package in the common area to share with the rest of the soldiers here. Needless to say the box was quickly emptied. ” (August 2010)

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Cpt Seth Power – US Army stationed in Iraq

“We got your packages today, and to say the least they didn’t last long. Everyone dug through them in about 15 minutes and everyone had managed to grab something. Great packages, I know the guys really appreciated it and everyone kept asking me who sent it. Its nice to see how appreciative the guys are to the people who take time out to send things over here.” (August 2010)

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PFC Vinny Violi – US Army stationed in Iraq

“I can’t say thank you enough and how grateful I am for everyone’s support. The package I received was simply amazing. Every item in the package is very useful, and will definitely help me a lot over the next year. I am literally speechless of how much you went through just to encourage one soldiers morale…” (August 2010)

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Mr. & Mrs. Mark Banchi – parents of SSG Michael Banchi

“…We are writing to thank you and your organization for remembering our son and the men and women of the 304th Transportation Company serving in Kuwait and Iraq. Michael recently received your “HUGE!” box of goodies. Michael told us all about your letter and the wonderful treats in a recent webcam session. We were touched by his excitement and your thoughtfulness…” (July 2010)

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SMSgt William Schweitzer – US Air Force stationed in Kyrgyz Republic

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for the care package I recently received. As a member of the 111th Security Forces Squadron from Willow Grove ARS I am thankful for all the support we have received while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Its organizations like Freedom Steps that make deployments just that much easier knowing there are people back home supporting our efforts.” (July 19, 2010)

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Janet – participant of 2010 Freedom Steps

“I did the walk on Sunday, it was awesome I really enjoyed it, it was well planned and very inspiring and a very special cause.
I don’t want to stop there, please tell me if there is another way I can help out with Freedom steps.” (May 2, 2010)

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Ken – parent of soon to be deployed Marine & committee member

“I am just letting you know how much it means for Kim and I to be a part of this wonderful event.  As you know Kenny is being deployed to Afghanistan on the day of the event and we are so happy to be distracted from that by being involved with such a great project.  This will be the best year, yet.  Lets all keep it growing.  Come one, come all and help us support our deployed troops. Ohh Rah!” (March 16, 2010)

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Sgt. Ryan Nolan – US Army stationed in Iraq
“Thank you so much for the package you sent! Both myself and the guys were extremely thankful!”

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LTJG Jill Molt – US Navy stationed at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
“…It is a British camp but we have many Navy doctors, nurses(that’s me), and corpsmen doing a joint mission at their hospital. We take care of British, US and Afghan forces, also many Afghan civilians who are getting injured in the middle of everything. I shared everything with my coworkers here and my patients, many who after they get patched up will go back to the states or back to the field depending on their injuries, they were all very happy for the gifts. I passed the t-shifts out to some of the US navy nurses who are here with me, they say thank you.”

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Alex – girlfriend of a deployed US Army soldier

“Thank you again for organizing such a great event!!  You’re doing a great thing and it means alot to alot of people.  Don’t let the rain ruin it.”

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Michele – mom of a US Marine deployed to Afghanistan
“I feel so grateful that you may be able to help my son in Afghanistan.  If you need any other info or money for shipping please let me know 😉  Again I cant express how much I appreciate what you do!”

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Spc Sarah Hodges – US Army Medic stationed in Iraq
“Thank you all for your wonderful care packages and your support! We appreciate everything you do for us!”

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Cpt Mark Bouldin – US Army stationed near Mosul, Iraq

“…It is difficult to put into words how much I appreciate such a kind gesture. It is a wonderful feeling to have the support of VFW Post 3612 and the Willow Grove community. Heather, I applaud your efforts organizing the 2nd Annual Freedom Steps and all that you do for the Troops and community.  I’ve been in Iraq for about 4 months now and serve on a small advising Team. I shared the package with my Team and they also say thanks.”