GE Energy employees donate time, money to soldiers |

GE Energy employees donate time, money to soldiers

by Caryn Haller

In the spirit of Christmas and community, the employees at GE Energy in Minden wanted to ensure that Nevada troops serving overseas knew they were not forgotten.

On Monday, with the help of Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen Bailey Gumm and Miss University of Nevada, Reno, Ashton Sunseri, 145 gift boxes were packed and ready to be shipped to soldiers in Afghanistan.

“GE is such a wonderful community member, and to have all these people prepare boxes is really nice. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” Krolicki said. “It’s such a small gesture on our part, but for those who are receiving them, it brings Christmas cheer from us folks back in Nevada.”

Employees and Vietnam veterans Mike Davis and Larry Auchoberry began the program in 2003 along with Cheryl Jeanblanc and Donna Chizek.

“Vietnam veterans were treated very poorly, and we wanted to make sure our troops that are over there now don’t receive the same treatment we received,” Davis said. “We’ve had troops come back and say they took some of the stuff we gave them and shared it with other soldiers who didn’t get packages from home.”

Jeanblanc and Chizek said the boxes were their way of giving back.

“We all know people over there, and we want to show them that we haven’t forgotten them and we appreciate everything they are doing,” Chizek said.

Books, magazines, snacks, socks, toiletries, video games and Christmas decorations filled each box. GE Energy paid for the boxes and postage, but the items were all purchased by the 750 employees.

Capt. Laura Boldry of the Nevada Army National Guard received one of the goody boxes last year while she was stationed in Northern Afghanistan.

“It just makes you smile. It’s the small things,” Boldry said pointing to a pair of fuzzy purple socks. “It’s so great to know people care about you back in America who aren’t your family. This was a great morale booster for all my soldiers.”

Capt. Barron VanMeurs was supposed to fly to Phoenix on Monday for his mother’s birthday, but delayed his trip one day to help pack boxes. He also served in Afghanistan during Christmas last year.

“To me, this is that important. These are going to soldiers that are away from family,” he said. “We enjoyed getting Doritos, Snickers and Kirkland nuts, anything that wasn’t readily available to us.”

Wearing her sash and crown, Bailey carefully checked each box to ensure a variety of treats were inside.

“This is such a great thing, and it’s so nice to see people get together and help pack boxes for those who are serving our country. I want to thank all the GE workers for coming out and volunteering their time,” she said. “I’m so proud to be an American. Those soldiers are risking their lives so I can have my freedom here. It’s phenomenal.”