When the first round of FCH packages showed up on people's doorsteps, Vickie's phone started ringing almost immediately. Some women ripped open all 12 presents at once, others opened and carefully rewrapped the gifts so they could do it again with their children, and some waited to unwrap them over the phone with their loved one. "Women use the ribbons and tags as ornaments or put them in a centerpiece for Christmas dinner," Vickie says, her voice cracking. "When the women call me I stay on the phone with them as long as necessary because I know that's the kind of support I needed when my son was deployed."
Vickie will keep that dedication to FCH until there are no longer troops deployed. "I'm making other people happy and maybe making their day a little better," Vickie says. "And, in turn, they pass it on." At some point Vickie hopes to hire a small staff and have distribution centers across the country. Eventually she'd like to expand the program to anniversaries and even to provide a handyman service for women whose husbands and sons are in the military. Even though Vickie's and Lisa's sons are no longer serving, the women won't stop their work. FCH has gone beyond gifting and grown into an informal support system.
The bond between military moms is instant and unshakable. Vickie and Lisa send perfume every year to Patty Smith, of South Lake Tahoe, California, whose son Timothy was stationed with Lisa's son in Iraq. Timothy requested presents for his wife and his mother—even though technically there's a one-gift-per-soldier limit. "We didn't want to choose, so we sent them both presents," Lisa recalls. Timothy died in Baghdad not long after. At his funeral Lisa embraced Patty and told her that she smelled beautiful. Patty was wearing the perfume Timothy had sent her for Christmas.
"We're forever bound," Lisa says. "This woman has this last gift from her son. That's what keeps us going."
How You Can Help
Lend your time by hosting a gift-wrapping party in your home or office. Fill out a volunteer registration form at fullcirclehome.org, where you can also make a donation.
Originally published in the December 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.