Pittsville, Wis. – To show their appreciation for those who serve our country, the employees at Hay Creek companies decided to collect items to make care packages to send to troops stationed overseas. Hay Creek operates with a people-centered focus, and one of the company initiatives is a caring team that supports fellow employees and also sponsors activities that benefit others in the community.
With the guidance of the leadership of the caring team, employees choose a community project each quarter that allows them to give back. Sometimes it is collecting personal care items for a homeless shelter or for veterans at the Tomah VA Center. This time, the idea to support troops with care packages was born from the input of some of the Hay Creek Companies employees who have served overseas. One team member has a nephew who is deploying to Afghanistan soon with the Red Arrow 128th National Guard Battalion out of Abbotsford, so the team decided they wanted to send packages to this battalion.
Once the idea was launched, the team consulted some of the company’s employees who are veterans in order to get ideas for what meant the most to them when they were stationed overseas.
“We wanted the care packages to contain items that the servicemen and women would appreciate most,” said Hay Creek caring team leader, Sandy Chasteen. “One of our employees still has a manila envelope with the cards he received from grade school kids when he was deployed.” Other employees contributed more ideas to the list of items that were most useful for soldiers.
“We take for granted the comforts of home and don’t realize that something as simple as flip-flops or shower shoes are something that the soldiers greatly appreciate, as their showers may be a mobile shower with wooden slats or a shower trailer. Talking to our veterans has enlightened us about the sacrifices that our troops make for our freedom,” Chasteen said.
With the employee input as inspiration, the caring team reached out to the elementary school and church groups to invite kids to create cards to include in the care packages. They also sent out letters to area churches, the American Legion, and other groups to invite them to participate in the drive.
Kevin Krohn, a veteran who is employed as the dispatcher at Hay Creek Companies said, “Having been on the other side, it feels like Christmas every time you or your unit receives a care package. It helps reinforce that you are not fighting in a lost cause. People do care about you.”
After launching the campaign on its social media channels and posting a list of items, donations started to come in at the Hay Creek office. Then, Engineered Specialties (RapidAir) in Auburndale, Wis., offered to partner with Hay Creek to be another drop-off location for items.
“We have had such great response from groups and individuals in the community,” said Chasteen after donations began pouring in.
Knowing how much it means to a soldier to receive a box has spurred the team on with this project. “Getting a care package from back in the States helps you forget about being away from your family and loved ones for a little while,” Hay Creek employee and veteran Tim Osowski said. “It feels like someone cares and that you matter. A care package is a great morale booster. Something as simple as a warm pair of socks or baby wipes can be meaningful and appreciated.”
Veterans Day was the perfect start to the week when Hay Creek Companies wrapped up the donation drive in November. The community came together in a way that bonded veterans, civilians, children, churches and civic organizations with each other to appreciate active-duty soldiers whom they might never have the opportunity to meet, but whom they all want to support and encourage.
“I’ve personally seen the effects of troops receiving care packages and how much it can make being away less lonely. It’s like Christmas,” Osowski said.
On November 13, the caring team at Hay Creek Companies joined members of the community to pack the boxes for soldiers at the Hay Creek corporate office in Pittsville. They ended up creating 90 boxes to send out to troops.
Krohn spoke about how it feels to be on this end of a care package project. “Working with Sandy and the Hay Creek team has really helped me appreciate what I received when I was deployed. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a drive happen. I have truly appreciated being able to help out on this side and show those that are still in the fight that America still cares about them.”