Florida Panthers staff members partnered with Soldiers’ Angels to make handmade no-sew blankets, along with hygiene kits and food boxes for veterans. Since its inception the organization has sent over 850,000 care packages and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Soldier’s Angels was started in 2003 by Patti Patton-Bader, a military mom whose son, Brandon, was stationed in Iraq. Like any mother, she immediately started sending care packages over to Brandon, wanting him to get a taste of home. After several shipments Brandon was able to call home to tell Patti that he “was the luckiest man” in Iraq because of these care packages.
Patti knew she could do more.
“At the time there wasn’t a lot of infrastructure in Iraq for our troops. So Patti did what any mom would do. She got her friends, neighbors, and church members to send more and more care packages” said Jennifer Cernoch, the Vice President of Development for Soldiers’ Angels.
The Florida Panthers have a strong connection to the cause, being that several staff members are veterans.
“The Florida Panthers really are a family and that is what’s important to us. To be able to be a part of that family,” said Cernoch. “The Florida Panthers, because of the fact that they have so many veterans that have served that are a part of their family here, that is important to us. They understand the importance of serving. It is not just the veteran who serves, it is the family who serves.”
Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell, General Manager of the Panthers IceDen Keith Fine, and Director of Operations Donald Crapp, all veterans within the Panthers organization, visited the West Palm Beach VA Hospital to hand out the blankets and share some stories.
“It’s amazing. It’s very personal to me. We have a bunch of veterans at the company. When I served it was amazing to receive packages and to get these kind of things,” said Caldwell. “As a veteran, I felt honored to give something to somebody who paved the way for me,” said Crapp, as he went room to room handing out the blankets.
With a small number of full-time employees, Soldiers’ Angles truly relies on the volunteer hours of others to make a difference.
“It’s very special. It’s not every day we get visits like this, so to have a visit like this will be something very memorable to them,” said Mary Phillips, Chief of Voluntary Service at the hospital.