Williams contacted Patti Lokken of Operation Homefront, who gladly accepted the offer of cards and offered to send them to local soldiers.
However, the list isn't complete, Lokken
said, due to the ever-shifting nature of deployments, and the broad range of military bases and units that local military personnel call home.
"We keep hearing about (formerly unknown) soldiers," she
said."The number of deployed local soldiers is more than what we know." Lokken
usually includes a short explanation of who made the cards and where they came from to personalize them for soldiers.
To Patti Lokken
, they were "tears of joy, falling from heaven."
The Operation Homefront communications director proclaimed it, preacher-style, while riding down Sand Lake Road in Tuesday's parade to welcome home the Onalaska-based 458th Ordnance Supply Company
Nothing could diminish her
joy, or that of the hundreds of people who lined the streets of Onalaska
, shouting support and waving flags.
"You yell as loud as you can yell," Lokken
shouted at about 30 kids from La Crosse Day Care, all wearing teal shirts and holding U.S. flags.
colleagues in Operation Homefront
, an all-volunteer group , had a lot to do with rallying community support.The group formed shortly after a National Guard
unit in Arcadia, Wis., got activated in 2004.Then, the 32nd National Guard Engineer Company
, and the 458th Army Reserve Company
both of Onalaska
, got activated.
"We looked at each other and decided: I guess we were supposed to be here," Lokken
By the time she
took the podium at the OmniCenter
at 2:19 p.m., proclaiming, "Thank you for participating in this glorious and historic day," Lokken
had put in six weeks of planning, along with military and community leaders, to make the parade run."This could be the community's only chance to welcome home a whole unit together," she said, alluding to rumors the 32nd Engineer Company of Onalaska might come home in stages.Lokken
said the troops and families "hold a special place in my heart," partly because of her father, Denzel Robison, a World War II soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
...Patty Lokken is the communications director for Operation Homefront.
"They get taken care of really well by the military.But when they get these little extras that aren't military issue-they love that!It reminds them of home," said Lokken
..."We wanted to send the guys comforts of home," said Patti Lokken, Operation Homefront communications director for the Coulee Region branch.
The nationwide organization provides services and day-to-day support to military families of deployed soldiers.
In addition to crates of single-use eyedrops, skin cream, sunscreen and 3,200 toothpicks, local passers-by also donated area postcards showing the fall colors.
"All they see (over there) is desert brown and Army green," Lokken
said, "so this will give them a little color to put up on the walls."
"It's just phenomenal, how generous this community continues to be," Lokken
...For Patti Lokken, Operation Homefront communications director, the line brought relief.
"Everything was in place except for the weather and the people, and look at this," she
said, gesturing at the throngs waiting in sunny, autumn-like conditions.
Quillin's donated the sauce and spaghetti, Lokken
...Local businesses may make monetary contributions, but service donations are valuable, said Patti Lokken, chapter communications director.
"We are looking for businesses to provide a service.For example, mechanics or emergency day care providers are needed if a family's car breaks down or if they are in an emergency situation," said Lokken
"The community can volunteer to help out with any event we plan down the road.Volunteers can assemble packages if we send them to troops or they can set-up events," said Lokken
"The spaghetti dinner is a three-fold event," said Lokken
"It will be a way to reach out to families, to let the community know how to help and to get businesses involved," said Lokken
Region's Troops Deserve a Salute, Support