St. Louis woman giving military members a special holiday - KMOV.com

St. Louis woman giving military members a special holiday

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A St. Louis woman is continuing her mission to give military members a special holiday. (Credit: KMOV) A St. Louis woman is continuing her mission to give military members a special holiday. (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A St. Louis woman is continuing her mission to give military members a special holiday.

Julieann Najar is halfway through her fundraising goal for 2017 but is asking for help to complete soldiers’ wish lists.

“This young man is part of the reason I started Soldier’s Wish List,” explained Najar as she pointed to a black and white photo. She explained the soldier was killed in Vietnam on her birthday.

Najar explained when she was just 17 she started sending troops gifts. Back then it was candy. Since then, she turned her passion into a nonprofit.

“It went from four combat troops to 298,000,” said Najar.

She sends the gifts all over the world.

“What a young marine would ask for in Afghanistan is not what a young marine would ask for in Iraq or Kuwait or Qatar,” she said.

That’s why each military member gets individualized gifts. They can submit their wish lists online and she tries to connect them with people who will “adopt” them, as she calls it.

“We have people that signed up that their military person has some home and they get invited to the wedding or they get invited to the baby shower or one lady notified me and said thank you for letting me sign up because I married my soldier,” said Najar.

The gifts range from toys to necessities, like remote control cars and rubber slippers so they don’t have to walk around in their boots.

Sometimes, the request is a mix of the two.

“They put the camera on the remote control truck and used it to go in there and find IEDs and I didn't know it at the time but he wrote later and said ‘I’m really sorry, the truck got blown up,’” said Najar.

She also told the story of a soldier who asked for candy to give to local children. He later told her that after they gave out the candy, the children took them to a cave where bombs and ammunition were stored and they believe the weapons were meant to be used on American troops. But, because of the kindness, the troops showed to the local children, the kids showed them the stash.

She also likes to connect troops with people from the same state so they can get local goodies. She even has frozen gooey butter cookies in her freezer that she plans to send a Missouri man who is stationed in Poland.

Now she is looking for others to help her check off all of this year’s wishes.

“It always comes back to paying it forward. We wouldn't have what we have today if it weren't for these guys who raise their hand and decide to do what they do so we don't have to,” said Najar.

If you aren’t able to adopt a troop, she says even a donation to help pay for postage, which some years adds up to $7,000, would help, said Najar.

They are also planning a big benefit auction in November. It will be at Marley’s Bar & Grill on Nov. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m.

For more information on how to get involved, visit A Solder’s Wish List website.

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