Local charity’s “We Care” boxes help remember forgotten soldiers

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach | Soldier Recipients with care packages in Bagram Afghanistan
Credit: Forgotten Soldier Outreach supplied photo

When Lynelle Chauncey Zelnar’s co-worker expressed concern that her son and his squad members deployed to Iraq were growing tired and frustrated and yearning for home, Lynelle knew she had to find a way to help. Those who knew Lynelle were not surprised by her response. She had pursued a degree in sociology from the University of Florida. Following graduation, Lynelle began her career as a social worker for the state of Florida because of her desire to help others.

Lynelle wasted no time gathering items to send to the U.S. deployed soldiers to boost their spirits and encourage them. And in October 2003, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach was born to assist in “sending that little bit of home to our troops,” with Lynelle as its Founder and Executive Director.  Not only did service members receive much-needed care items, but they also received letters of encouragement. 

Though this local charity is located in Lake Worth, Florida’s warehouse district, it has grown to become a nationally-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization that receives support from across the country. Lynelle’s mission of “supporting America’s deployed military service members and ensuring they are not forgotten” has inspired thousands of volunteers to pack “We Care” boxes to ship overseas to members of the U.S. deployed military who have been registered by family members, friends, commanding officers, or themselves. 

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach | Soldier Recipients
Credit: Forgotten Soldiers Outreach supplied photo

Up to 400 “We Care” boxes are mailed out every month. To date, nearly half a million service members have benefited from the “We Care” boxes containing donated non-perishable items and toiletries. The program also recruits schoolchildren to write letters to the soldiers, which the soldiers greatly appreciate. Throughout the year, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach holds several local fundraisers, some around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day. Staff and volunteers will be packing boxes for those who serve every day until there are no more wars – a dream Lynelle shares. 

The list of service members in need of Forgotten Soldiers Outreach continues to grow as deployments continue worldwide. More than ever, U.S. deployed military personnel can benefit from the extra morale boost provided by Forgotten Soldiers Outreach’s “We Care” packages. 

To continue their mission of sending “that little bit of home” to our troops, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach relies on generous donations and volunteers. Their “We Care” packages include hygiene items, snacks, treats, and encouraging letters. These are all donated items. Money donations are used to cover shipping costs. Their volunteers work tirelessly to sort donations, inventory, and pack the “We Care” boxes. Though based in Lake Worth, Florida, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach accepts donations from all over the U.S. Volunteers come from the local area and work in the warehouse and office. 

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach | Soldier Recipients
Credit: Forgotten Soldier Outreach supplied photo

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach provides several ways for you to support our U.S. deployed troops. You can find a list of monthly events sponsored by Forgotten Soldiers Outreach benefiting the deployed military on their website. Additionally, you can write a letter of encouragement to a soldier that they include in one of the “We Care” packages. And if you’re skeptical that these seemingly insignificant gestures make a difference, consider one of the many responses Forgotten Soldiers Outreach has received from deployed soldiers. “We appreciate so much what you all do for us. I read recently that one of the greatest protective factors against PTSD is support at home, and not just our immediate home but our national home. I can’t express how much this means to all of us out here. Thanks again.” 

Contact Forgotten Soldiers Outreach today if you’d like to help this local charity. Whether you volunteer to help create the “We Care” packages, attend one of the monthly sponsored events, or make a donation to help purchase much-needed care items, you can be confident that whatever you do will help ensure that our deployed soldiers are never forgotten. 

To learn more about Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, visit their website here

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