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CBS 12's Extraordinary People: Forgotten Soldiers Outreach

Posted by Miranda Grossman / CBS12 News
Michele Wright / CBS 12 News Anchor/Reporter

LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- Thousands of local soldiers are stationed overseas and miss their family, friends and the normalcy of life that many take for granted.

"I get choked up because I still can't believe it's been 10 years. But when I heard the story from my friend about her son, it really put a place in my heart. God laid it on my heart that there's something I can do to make a difference", said Lynelle Zelnar.

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach in Lake Worth is on a mission...to make sure that no soldier is ever forgotten. Their work throughout the year ships a little bit of home in care packages to let our brave servicemen and women know they are loved. Lynelle Zelnar is the Executive Director and Founder. She says many of our troops are coming home, but many are still being deployed.

"I think everyone gets so accustomed to their everyday lifestyle that they forget we have our servicemen and women serving overseas protecting our freedom. We need to really be grateful and realize our freedom is not free."

Letter read by Jeanelle Avallone from a Soldier:
"Dear Forgotten Soldiers Outreach. Thank you all so very much for volunteering to bring smiles and joy to so many far away from home."

"Over the past 10 years, we've reached out to so many and we've received such wonderful responses from the spouses, parents, soldiers themselves when they send us thank you letters, flags that we're flown on our behalf and when they come to visit. This is why we do what we do".

Their "feel-good" operation and care packages are dedicated to reach out to soldiers who are often overlooked.

"We put everything from letters of encouragement from kids and students all over the country, as well as Girl scout cookies go in every single package. Toiletry items, snack food, protein food, peanut butter, etc. Just all miscellaneous items...all filled with love. And every care package includes an additional smaller care package for that recipient to give to another. We call it the "Troop It Forward" box. That goes into every care package. When someone at mail call doesn't hear their name, they take that package and hand it to them so that no one will go without receiving something from Forgotten Soldiers Outreach".

Open 6 days a week, Lynelle says they can't do it alone. They need volunteers, sponsors, more items, and hand-written letters all year round. No matter the age...Lynelle says, "there is something for everybody".

"Every month we ship out care packages to our list of recipients on a monthly basis and we need help to cover those costs. We need volunteers for the packing events. We need volunteers to help administratively in the office, answer phones, work from home for the organization. We're looking for supporters. A sponsorship for our local communities. Support our local troops, volunteer and help cover the costs of their care packages".

"We have ongoing events in the community. We're just about everywhere we could possibly be to let people know we're there and to not forget about our troops. And thanks to people like you Michele for helping us get the word out. That's a blessing to our organization".

Stay up-to-date with Forgotten Soldier Outreach events HERE
Join in a monthly packaging event HERE

"We are proud of our student ambassadors program. We are happy to have those who need college credits for community service. We welcome the schools, businesses, churches to do collection drives because we need items all year round. We need letters of encouragement all year round. And of course without funds it does us no good. We need the funds all year round".

Lynelle tells CBS 12's Michele Wright, "It's truly not about me. It's about everybody who's pulled together as a team to show support for our troops and let them know that they are not forgotten". Don't forget the soldiers!

Forgotten Soldier Outreach sponsors:

  • Florida Power & Light
  • Two Men & A Truck
  • Girl Scouts
Join the full list of FSO contributors & partners HERE

Connect with Forgotten Soldiers Outreach on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE

If you know an extraordinary person or extraordinary people making a positive difference in South Florida, email Michele Wright at mwright@cbs12.com, tweet her HERE or submit your nomination on-line below. We'd love to hear about it. 

CLICK HERE to fill out a submission formCBS 12's Extraordinary People: Forgotten Soldiers Outreach

Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:21 PM EDT

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