Pack & Mail in Woodbury has had a lot of return visits from customers in recent days.
But it isn’t because they got an address wrong or forgot to ship something.
The store is collecting socks for the unit of a soldier from Woodbury stationed in Afghanistan.
“Customers will come in, and I’ll tell them the story and a half and hour later they’re coming in and dropping off socks,” said Pack & Mail manger Kathleen Friendt.
The idea for the initiative came after a Pioneer Press article about Woodbury Marine Joshua Hanson, 21, which Friendt printed off and stations copies of near the drop box. “I was just touched by the story,” she said.
And, as Joshua Hanson told Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario via email: “Socks are huge.”
In Woodbury, Joshua’s mother, Luli Flores-Hanson, said she appreciates the effort.
“We’re so deeply humbled and grateful for the support,” she said.
What’s also nice, Flores-Hanson said, is that many people have “come out of the blue” to collect items for her son and his Marine unit.
One of those people is Woodbury resident Gay Rous, whose two daughters and three of his grandchildren are in the military. His father was also a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
He, too, saw the Pioneer Press story and decided to put together a box of supplies for Joshua Hanson.
“I need to give back,” Rous said. “That means to world to me, to see this support for the military and their families."
Pack & Mail has often held similar drives for the military, Friendt said, including a 2009 drive in which the store packed mini stockings for a unit in Kuwait.
“We’re always contributing in some way,” she said, adding that the store also works with the Woodbury Yellow Ribbon Network to provide discounts on shipping. “Whatever we can do to help.”
Friendt called herself an “Air Force brat for 21 years” and said she understands the challenges facing military families.
“They band together,” she said. “They help and take care of each other.”
The campaign at Pack & Mail runs through Dec. 21.
For Flores-Hanson, she knows there are conflicting views on the United States’ military involvement overseas, but young men such as her son are laying their life on the line. “There’s a job to be done,” she said.
“It takes a community to support the troops,” Flores-Hanson said.
She is also enlisting the help of friends and family to make pillowcases for her son’s unit. Those interested in helping can email her at email@example.com.
Flores-Hanson said she speaks to her son once or twice a week. He usually talks about being homesick.
With the help of the Woodbury community, however, he can get a touch of home while he serves his country. And she expressed her gratitude to the city for its help.
“We wish we could give them all a hug and say thank you,” Flores-Hanson said.