With Christmas just three weeks away, Laura Landerman-Garber and her team are hard at work trying to make sure that they bring holiday smiles to U.S. troops overseas and across the nation.
“This is like my Santa’s workshop,” Landerman-Garber said of her home to ABC affiliate WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire.
For 16 years, the Hollis, New Hampshire, woman has been collecting letters — and care packages — from across the U.S. and sending them out to the military. At first, she got her family members to send the holiday cards.
Two years ago, she set a goal of 5,000 cards and mailed them out to servicemembers aboard an aircraft carrier.
“We wanna give to our warriors…who are far away from home,” she said.
Landerman-Garber eventually formed the nonprofit Holiday Cards 4 Our Military — NH Challenge to help with postage and enlisted family, friends and even neighbors to help with the huge holiday effort.
Many of the letters and notes to the servicemembers begin with “Dear Warrior” and include handwritten notes and homemade illustrations from children across the nation. Landerman-Garber even gotten letters from schoolchildren as far away as Hawaii.
In 2019, 50,000 cards were mailed out.
This year, Landerman-Garber’s challenge reached all 50 states. She even got cards from some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
On Monday, Landerman-Garber posted to her Facebook group that she had received “160,000-plus” holiday cards.
By Wednesday, the cards and holiday candy had begun arriving to troops overseas and in the U.S. The photographs she shared in her Facebook group captured just how special the packages made the servicemembers feel.
Landerman-Garber said it was those photographs and expressions of gratitude that kept her sending cards year after year.
“New Hampshire, we’re fierce. … We’re small in size but we’re so large in heart,” she told WMUR-TV.