LYNCHBURG, Tenn. (WHNT) - Ashley Sand started Love for a Soldier after her best friend, who was getting ready to deploy, passed away five years ago. While it started as a way for her to cope with his death, she now realizes how much of a difference it's making in the lives of those serving our country.
When you're stationed in a foreign country, you come to really appreciate the small reminders of home.
"All the soldiers were almost in tears about the things she sent us," says soldier Chase Skinner.
Things that most of us wouldn't make a fuss over, made their day.
"Lots Cheetos, beef jerky, and Gold Bond," recalls Skinner.
Skinner is in the U.S. Army and spent nine months in Afghanistan in 2015. His unit received around 20 boxes from Love for a Soldier.
"A lot of the soldiers, we'd almost fight over Slim Jims," jokes Skinner.
Ashley Sand says Love for a Soldier started as a small operation and grew quickly.
"It grew from 10 boxes to 130," describes Sand.
Each box is loaded with essentials, a picture of her soldier and friend, Tommy and most of all love.
"We send everything from coffee to drink mixes, protein bars, protein shakes," explains Sand. "Not only do I feel like his memory alive, I've had a lot of people reach out to me and say 'Can I help you? Can I donate a box in my son's name or husband's name?' I'm all for that."
They also send the units flags, signed by hundreds of people that come by the Dixie Outfitters store on the square in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The messages of support really resonate and WHNT NEWS 19's surprise of $319 really touched Sand.
"I have a unit that's deployed right now that we've been trying to get our boxes out to and that will do it," says Sand. "That's amazing!"
Love for a Soldier gets a lot of donations. Many of them go into the care packages, but what can't be sent is given to groups in Tennessee and Huntsville that help homeless veterans. If you'd like to help, you can contact Love for a Soldier at P.O. Box 358 Lynchburg, TN 37352 or via email at email@example.com.