Thank A Soldier Event Is A Gigantic Success

Keller Williams Realty spearheads the volunteer drive to gather and stuff 500 boxes to send to military servicemen and women overseas.

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(Photo by Ross A Benson)

For the brave men and women who are serving overseas in the military, it can be a very difficult and trying time because they’re away from their loved ones, friends, and familiar settings like eating at a favorite restaurant, watching a baseball game, or being at an amusement park.

With the help of the associates of the Keller Williams Realty, the Burbank, Glendale, and La Canada-Flintridge offices, those soldiers, who are thousands of miles removed from those idyllic spots, will be a little closer to home because hundreds of local citizens helped package goodie boxes recently in Thank A Soldier event at the UMe Credit Union.

Barry Gussow, an employee at Keller Williams Realty, said the company has a core belief, which is God, family, and business, in that order.

When asked why he enjoys being involved with Thank A Soldier, Gussow pointed to his jacket lapel and said that he’s a veteran, that it’s something that makes him proud and is honored to help out in any way.

Gussow said the program to assist American soldiers overseas began in 2010, and that after COVID-19 in 2020, while it’s never easy to stage, did say, “it’s been much harder to get people to donate and raise funds.”

Gussow stood firm that this is always a worthy cause and that he’s proud to be a part of it.

“Keller Williams has a culture that is important to me and to many of the associates who represent them. We selected this event about 14 years ago to help these brave Americans serving overseas who are protecting our freedoms,” he said. “I understand what that means as I am a veteran and served in Germany during the Cold War. We had to take a break during the pandemic but are all thrilled to be back as we all love this event.”

About 500 boxes will be sent to servicemen and women overseas, and it’s essential that they know there are so many people back home who care and love them.

“It is also important to let those brave Americans serving overseas know that we appreciate what they do and have not forgotten about them,” Gussow pointed out. “They deserve our gratitude.”

Burbank City Council member Nikki Perez was also on hand to lend her support for this wonderful project.

“I’ve been doing lots of these. They [military] give the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “It’s so important that they know people care, and I’m so grateful for what they do.”

This operation began pre-pandemic and has been responsible for roughly 10,000 boxes stuffed and sent to military men and women overseas.

Inside the boxes are snacks such as beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit, hard candy, gum, hot chocolate packets, Crystal Light packets, oatmeal packets, macaroni and cheese packets, protein bars, granola bars, sunflower seeds, Rice Krispy treats, baby powder, foot powder, deodorant, disposable razors, feminine hygiene products, Handy-Wipes, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, bars of soap, white crew sox, sunscreen, toothpaste, individual toothbrushes, paperback books, crossword puzzle books, Sudoku puzzle books and thank you letters from local youngsters.

Many Boy Scouts of America were among the hundreds of people volunteering, including Drake Ishkhanian from Troop 127.

“I wanted to do something for the community and I chose this,” he said. “It was my idea to help.”

Also volunteering was Jonathan Sagherian, Troop 127 Scout Master who was likewise happy to help out during the bright sunny day.

Though it was a four-hour event with a live band, free lunch, face painting for the children, and jumpers, the planning for this event began five months ago, but it’s always worth the effort.

    Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center