By Ginger DeShaney
Coming from a military family, Kelly Conroy has always been passionate about taking care of soldiers.
“Our troops don’t get what they need and certainly not what they deserve,” said the lifelong South Bostonian. “I feel like it’s something we can do just to lift them up. Some of them are just so young and they’re so far away from home.
“It’s such a big sacrifice on everyone. I just figured, you know, if I can do a little something, why not?”
Kelly isn’t doing a little something. She’s doing a BIG something. After years of sending care packages to a handful of soldiers, she has kicked it up several notches by becoming a local organizer for the AdoptaPlatoon organization. Her Adopt a Platoon Southie Style chapter, started about a year and half ago, is an offshoot of the Adopt a 10th Mountain (Mt.) Platoon Program.
She now has two platoons and a total of 50 soldiers who get care packages every month. Kelly has a part-time job, but her role with AdoptaPlatoon is practically a full-time job!
With the increased numbers, Kelly has enlisted family and friends to help fill and ship those care packages. Even strangers are helping. “People have been so generous,” Kelly said.
According to its website, “AdoptaPlatoon Soldier Support Effort® founded in 1998 is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to serving deployed United States Service Men and Women ensuring that they are not forgotten by a grateful Nation; providing ongoing care packages to improve quality of life and raising morale for those serving overseas in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard, and Special Forces.”
Every box includes travel-size toiletries for the month, sunblock, snacks, powder mixes, socks, packs of gum, a note from Kelly, photos of South Boston, and more. She’ll ask the soldiers if they want anything special, such as games or sports equipment. But they won’t usually ask for anything. She either has to beg them for answers or her son, who is in one of her platoons, will mention something.
When she found out one of her platoons had no bed sheets, she put that out on Facebook and the next thing she knew, she had 30 sets of sheets to send. She’s secured a karaoke machine and a chess table and is in the process of getting a dart board.
Every soldier gets a birthday card from Kelly. And she reaches out to teachers and senior centers to have school kids, veterans, and seniors create special cards and notes for the soldiers on Veterans Day and other occasions. Kelly provides the materials.
These care packages are so appreciated. Kelly hears from soldiers and their spouses about how much the care packages cheer them up. One of her platoons sent her a gift – a signed group photo, which means the world to her.
Kelly is getting the word out about the program in various ways: on Facebook and Instagram; with collection boxes at various Southie hotspots, like the Seapoint Restaurant, Roza Lyons, and L Street Bathhouse; with flyers; and word of mouth.
“It’s just whatever I put out and ask, people just come through,” Kelly said. “It’s amazing; people are so good.”
Many of Kelly’s family members play a big part in the program, including her husband, John, daughter Caroline, and son Nolan.
“It’s just trying to make somebody feel a little better for a short period of time while they’re away from home. And help to make people realize they’re appreciated and not forgotten.”
It warms Kelly’s heart that she can cheer somebody up and make somebody smile and forget that they’re in the middle of the desert.
Kelly continues to need generous people to donate items to fill the boxes and pay for shipping. Each box costs $17 to ship, multiplied by 50. Every month, Kelly runs a raffle to help defray the cost of shipping. So far, she’s sent about 600 boxes through AdoptaPlatoon.
If you would like to donate items or money:
- Email Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Venmo Kelly @kconroy405
- Request to join her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/795202431457010
- Check out @adoptaplatoonsouthiestyle on Instagram