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Thank Israeli Soldiers, an organization that aims to boost IDF troops' morale and show them they're not alone, delivered its largest number of care packages to soldiers near Gaza City this week.
Since the organization was started on November 17, Thank Israeli Soldiers has sent 15,000 care packages with the help of financial donors abroad and local supporters. It was founded by three former IDF soldiers who took part in the second Lebanon War.
Yechiel Lanzkron, Aviv Vishkovski, and Akiva Shmueli felt that the only way to make the army stronger was to show soldiers that they were appreciated.
"[The soldier] knows, but he doesn't see it [with] his eyes," said Lanzkron. "When you get a package, it reminds you who is standing behind you."
Volunteers from SHEKEL, an organization that helps people with disabilities contribute and participate in the community, helped prepare the care packages sent out this week. They were joined by school children from around the country, with total of 100 schools assisting in the effort.
On Monday, trucks drove through Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, gathering 3,000 care packages from the schools and SHEKEL volunteers. Each of the three trucks, which were loaned to Thank Israeli Soldiers free of charge by an organization called Chagim, was accompanied by a volunteer who distributed the care packages at undisclosed locations.
"A soldier is in dust and grease until he gets this [package]," said Lanzkron. "This is a way to make people happier."
To find out what soldiers needed, Thank Israeli Soldiers conducted a survey among 300 participants from the army. The results decided what would fill the $18, $25, and $36 packages.
Inside every box is a personal letter from the donor, as well as their phone number if the soldier wishes to speak with the individual. Donors are permitted to select the region where their gift will be sent, and many have bought more than one care package at a time.
"We really want people to send love," said Lanzkron, "and I believe we can really make soldiers smile at an affordable price. It's easy to help the soldiers. It takes five minutes on our Web site. If someone is in the car, we have a telephone system so you can send the care package electronically."
The organization usually sends between 500 and 1,000 care packages during their visits. On Friday, six cars will bring 500 care packages to soldiers.