Group Works To Grant Troops' Wishes

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2007 - Servicemembers receiving care packages from A Soldier's Wish List or one of its thousands of "adopters" know that good things really do come in small packages.

"Our goal is to fulfill the wishes of our troops to the best of our abilities," Julieann Najar, the group's founder, said.

A Soldier's Wish List was founded in 2003 when Najar went to see her son off on his tour to the Middle East. When she arrived at Fort Riley, Kan., she met a young soldier who had no family there to say good-bye. She asked if she could "adopt" him, and A Soldier's Wish List was born.

The group's goal is simple: Match up those wanting to "adopt" a servicemember with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who'd like a little piece of home. The adopters then do their best to send that piece of home to their new "family member."

"To date, we have over 10,000 troops and over 12,000 adopters from all over the U.S., Germany, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Jamaica, South Africa and Puerto Rico who have sent items to their 'adopted' troops," Najar said.

The adopted troops are serving in hot spots around the globe including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, Qatar and South Korea. Their wishes are just as varied as their locales. They've requested everything from new desert boots and DVD players to movies, snacks and phone cards, and their adopters do their best to come through.

Many of the group's adopters have found A Soldier's Wish List through America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

A Soldier's Wish List is a member of America Supports You.

"A lot of adopters have gotten the contact information from the (America Supports You) Web site," Najar said about those interested in A Soldier's Wish List.

In many cases, the families of adopted servicemembers keep in touch with the adopters and arrange a meeting with them when the servicemembers arrive home.

For Najar, however, it's the letters her group receives thanking her, the group and the adopters for all they do for the servicemembers that mean so much.

"The letters and e-mails received by (A Soldier's Wish List) are overwhelming," she said. "Being able to be the contact between a lonely 'trooper' and (an adopter who can) send exactly what they miss from home is the best experience."

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