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Letter can brighten their day

Hannah Calus started sending her husband care packages last month, after he began his second deployment to Afghanistan.

Sgt. Emmanuel Calus has savored the letters from his wife, photos of his new baby and the regular shipment of candy, gum and paperbacks.

But while he enjoys some comforts from home, he is surrounded by others who apparently don’t get much, if any, mail at all.

“The guys would kind of look over and say, ‘I wish someone would care enough to send me something,’” Calus recalls her husband saying. “When I heard that, it broke my heart.”

She became the one who cared.

Calus sets up a booth at the Porter branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in North Stafford on Saturday mornings. She sits there with a sign that reads: “Please help us thank the troops.”

She has stacks of thank-you cards for people to sign and information about becoming a pen pal for those interested.

A box where patrons can drop off used books and magazines is at the library all the time.

There are 30 people in her husband’s platoon, and Calus hopes to send them regular care packages, with notes addressed to each and every soldier.

“I want others to care about them as much as I do,” Calus said. “Everyone deserves to be thought of and appreciated.”

Calus is 21 and staying with her parents, Pam and Jerry Dice, in North Stafford, while her husband is deployed. The Caluses have a 4-month-old daughter, Abigail Joanne.

The sergeant left March 3, and his wife started sending packages almost as soon as his boots hit the ground. She always includes his favorites: red Twizzlers and York Peppermint Patties, sketch pads and crossword puzzles and medication patches to relieve the pain in his back that comes from carrying so much equipment.

Emmanuel Calus is a forward observer with the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Carson, Colo. He’s part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2/12 Infantry, 2nd Platoon, B Company.

His wife sends a weekly priority mail package from the post office that costs $15 to mail, no matter the weight. She hopes to send several to others in the platoon, and she’s asked her husband for lists of what the other guys want and need.

Calus regularly scours dollar stores for generic items for her care packages.

She belongs to a Facebook support group called MOMtourage, and about eight other mothers have offered to bake cookies and brownies for the platoon.

Melissa Parson of Michigan is one of them.

“Hannah has a big heart,” Parson wrote in an email. “She’s doing something amazing for a group of guys she’s never even met.”

Her husband called her “caring and patriotic,” adding she’s doing her part to create a secure government in another country.

“The people of Afghanistan are grateful,” he wrote in an email.

Calus and her husband communicate as regularly as they can, through Facebook and a walkie–talkie-type application that works via the Internet. Even so, she treasures the regular letters he writes. She believes those in a combat zone would be just as glad to get mail.

“That’s one of the best things guys like to receive—letters from home,” she said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425