1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

1-22 Infantry "Sweetheart"

January 2005

 

 

Evelyn Baroszek, right, and her friend, Verla Jocobs,
prepare care packages for the troops overseas. The effort is year-round.

 

 

Spirit of the Season
To Iraq with love: Remembering the soldiers

Monday, Dec. 26, 2005

By LYNN YORK

LARGO - Evelyn Baroszek is a wife, mother, and very special person to many military men and women.

Working tirelessly, Baroszek keeps the holiday spirit year round by sending the comforts of home, one box at a time, to troops stationed overseas.
She’s been on this mission since November 2003, she said, and “won’t stop until the war is over in Iraq.”

Word has spread throughout the area about the cause Baroszek has taken up through her work in the Republican Club of Greater Largo,
where she serves as chairman of Hospitality and Troops TLC committees. She speaks frequently to her mobile home community, as well.

As a result, she has donations from friends and family, politicians like state Rep. Leslie Waters, as well as five other Republican clubs.

Her home is always overflowing with a multitude of items – cookies, juice boxes, plastic silverware, magazines, notebooks, pens and pencils.
She does spend some of her own money when out shopping, admitting that she “unconsciously throws things in the cart.”

There’s so much stuff around that her husband, Joe, longs for the day when he can sit and eat a meal at their dining room table,
which has become the “command center.” In fact, over the two years that Baroszek has been sending care packages,
a spare bedroom had to be turned into a temporary storage area.

As of Nov. 30, Baroszek had mailed out 245 boxes this year. Her goal is 300.

“I’ll get there!” she said.

With all the precision of a commander, she and her aides are constantly strategizing and packing as much possible into each shipment.
The soldiers who receive her packages come recommended, although Evelyn does have a main contact in the military,
Lieut. Col. Steve Russell of the United States Army Fourth Division, First Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

Stationed in Iraq from June 2003 to April 2004, Russell and his troops played a key role during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”
in searching for and capturing Saddam Hussein.

The care packages from Largo played their own part – after returning from missions, the soldiers would find her boxes waiting there for them.

A friendship formed between Russell and Baroszek, and this past January, he invited her to attend the “Sweetheart Ball” at Fort Hood, Texas,
where she was named their “Sweetheart.” Surprised by the honor, she asked Russell why they chose her, and he replied
“we wanted you because you did so much for us.”

Baroszek emphasized that “people are so wonderful” in helping her cause. Her latest holiday packages included 12 miniature digital cameras
recently donated by Autoway Lincoln in Clearwater, along with hundreds of handmade cards and letters from students at local elementary schools.

To those who are stationed far away and separated from their loved ones, like Army Specialist Amelia Burkal or Col. Peter Sammarco,
these special gifts mean a lot and some of the soldiers let Evelyn know this through cards, letters and e-mails.
And just like any proud mom would do, she shows off all the kind words she’s received over the years,
always hoping in the back of her mind that one day the boxes won’t be needed anymore.

Article Copyright Tampa Bay Newspapers: All rights reserved. www.TBNWeekly.com

 


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