Cornell Camaraderie Club raises money to send packages to area soldiers

Cornell, WI (WEAU) -- A local club is sending its thanks to soldiers overseas. Cornell's Camaraderie Club has sent more than 1,800 care packages to soldiers with local ties, over the last eight years.

War veteran, Lyle Adrian says it was hard coming back home after the Vietnam war, and not feeling supported.

"We were trashed, spit on, everything when we came out of that war,” says Adrian.

So, when he saw the opportunity to make sure other soldiers wouldn't have to feel that way, he took advantage of it. Adrian says, "Our big project right now is just supporting the troops, sending packages overseas."

Adrian is part of Cornell’s Camaraderie Club, a group that sends care packages to soldiers overseas, with local ties to the area.

"My reason as a veteran, it's giving support, the feeling of good will, just heart fulfillment and I think the heart fulfillment is the biggest thing," says Adrian when explaining why he participates.

Andrea Smith says the Camaraderie Club began as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center, and organization that provides extended learning opportunities to youth and seniors. As Community Education Director for the center, she says while the packages are sent to local soldiers, they reach many others as well.

"That package isn't just going to that person, but that person is opening up that box and a bunch of soldiers are receiving the benefits of it. It may be a soldier has no one sending them even a letter and they now know people care. That's what keeps us going," says Smith.

The packages cost $15.45 to ship, and that doesn't include the cost of the items like, snacks, jerky, candy, newspapers and hygiene products says Smith. She says the reason they need to host fundraiser, like selling ice cream at Cornell’s annual Rendezvous days is because the money is put to use so quickly.

“This is really near and dear to us, but they work endlessly to make the money come in to keep these packages going out,” say Smith when explain why the club needs to continuously be raising money for the packages.

Smith also says the club meets every Monday at Cornell Elementary School and sends out boxes twice a month.

Member Kathy Swanson says she has a niece receiving packages but says she also hears from other soldiers as well.

"I get messages from them saying that they've received the boxes and how excited they are, and how some of the other soldiers are happy to partake in sharing the boxes that we send. So, that makes us feel good,” says Swanson while showing a Facebook message from one of the soldiers currently receiving care packages.

But, in the end, all three members says, they hope for one thing. “We continue to pray for a day when this is not necessary, when our soldiers are all home," says Swanson.

Smith says they’re always looking for donations to continue their work. She says anything from monetary donations to items is welcome.