A Tree for the Troops

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We've introduced you to Linda Hayes before, and now another local business is helping Linda with her efforts.

Most of us woke up Christmas morning with presents from our family waiting for us under the tree, but a pine at Laurie's Gifts in Rockford is a tree for our troops who were far away this holiday.

"We became so passionate about selling her magnets that at Christmas we decided we wanted to help raise money and items," says Laurie's Gifts manager, Robin Fenick.

The response has been overwhelming. Linda Hayes started the Freedom Packages Program about a year and a half ago.

"It's grown beyond our wildest dreams and I received two phone calls from Iraq last week. It makes it all worthwhile," says Hayes.

Eight hundred fifty boxes have been sent for Christmas so far and these goods will head out next week. Linda's next venture: sweatshirts. She's hoping to send 500 for our wounded troops recovering in Germany.

"We're going to send 500 sweatshirts, we're going to be part of an organization that sends backpacks to our troops that are wounded," says Hayes.

"They need our support; everyone's been pulling together to help," says Fenick.

Linda says she won't stop sending freedom packages until all our troops are back home, and until that times comes, the Rockford community won't stop giving.

If you'd like to help, Linda says you can purchase a sweatshirt at the Wal-Mart on Riverside. Wal-Mart will give the Freedom Packages Program $1.00 back for every sweatshirt purchased.

You can drop the sweatshirts off at Laurie's, or at the two other drop-off locations in Rockford: Home Environment Center or Lady Wellness.