ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The holidays are usually a time for families to enjoy each other’s company, but for many service members, the holiday season can be the toughest time of the year.
A local organization is stepping in to bridge the gap between those who are deployed and their loved ones.
Full Circle Home has been assisting deployed service members from all branches of the military — both in Rochester and beyond — in sending their loved ones present for the holidays. It’s something to let the heroes at home know their heroes overseas are thinking of them.
It all started with Vickie Durfee’s son being deployed overseas.
“My son in 2006 asked me to send something to his then-girlfriend — now wife,” Durfee said. “And when he called me afterwards, I could hear the smiles in his voice. He was so happy that he was able to make her happy.”
It has expanded from there — Durfee founded Full Circle Home and became the organization’s executive director. Full Circle Home is a nonprofit organization facilitating the connection between deployed service members and their loved ones.
“Ideally, we catch a unit before they deploy — they write their notes right there and give them back to us,” Durfee said. “The love note gets tucked into a little pouch with, of course, the very needed packet of tissues.”
Full Circle Home worked with various businesses, each paying for the packages, that include the letter, as well as 12 gift boxes for the 12 days of Christmas.
Local defense contractor L3 Harris has played a large role in this process — not only do employees volunteer year after year, but many have even served in the military themselves and they know better than anyone that the loved ones at home often take on the most burden.
“Everybody who has someone who is deployed is going through the same things we are going through,” Durfee said. “Except, they don’t have their source of support by them.”
And then when family members receive those holiday gift packages.
“We’ve had hour-long talks with moms on Christmas Day,” said Durfee. “We have a whole book full of letters that people take their time to really share how important it is and how it impacted them.”
During this event, Full Circle Home was able to pack up 11,000 gift boxes for loved ones and they are only halfway through. Donations can be made through their website here.