(NEW YORK) — One mother’s care packages to her soldier son have now turned into gifts of love for untold numbers in war zones.
Evan Garlick joined the Marines when he was 17. He was eventually deployed to Iraq, a combat zone filled with chaos and pain.
He was injured by a roadside bomb in December 2006, but refused medical attention so a more seriously injured fellow Marine would be taken care of.
“I could feel the shrapnel and I remember taking a piece out,” Garlick, now living in Pelham, Georgia, told ABC News. “They said the lieutenant was down and we ran to him.”
Garlick earned a Purple Heart and both Marines recovered from their injuries. This wasn’t the first time Garlick had displayed such selflessness.
In his first deployment in 2005, his mother, Pat Garlick, would send him letters every single day, along with a weekly care package. His nickname around the base quickly turned into “post office.”
One day, however, Garlick noticed a buddy in his barracks wasn’t getting any mail at all.
“He was disappointed because everyone had received mail,” Garlick said. “You can see the look on his face of disappointment when the mail came. And when it was all gone, he hadn’t received anything yet.”
So he put in a special request with his mom: To send his empty-handed friend a package and “keep it a secret.”
“He goes, ‘Mom, can you send him a package?’” Garlick’s mom recalled. “’But don’t tell him where it came from. I don’t want him to know.’”
The package was received and something magnificent began. Garlick and his mother’s act of kindness has now turned into an assembly line of love. More than 3,000 care packages filled with snacks, goodies and magazines, all packed into personalized boxes they’ve dubbed “Pride Packages.”
Pat Garlick works with AnySoldier.com, a website that helps facilitate sending items to soldiers overseas, to get the names and addresses for where to send her “Pride Packages.”
“My mission is to make sure those in need receive something from back home,” she said.
Garlick and her team of volunteers in Shelbyville, Illinois, have sent more than 3,000 packages since her son’s deployment.
ABC News found one of the recipients of Garlick’s care packages, Navy Lt. Cheryl Collins.
Collins, who was stationed in Afghanistan, had a message for Garlick.
“I am so thankful for you and what you mean to so many people,” Collins said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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