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Utah mom delivers love with care packages

Utah mom delivers love with care packages

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OGDEN -- Hundreds of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have a caring mom in Ogden looking out for them.

Linda Larsen started off sending care packages to her son at war, and now counts nearly 700 soldiers on her Christmas list.

Larsen's son came home a year-and-a-half ago, but that didn't stop her from sending holiday packages to troops. In fact, Operation Adopt a Ghost keeps expanding.

"Every time I think, 'Ooh, I think we took on too much,' something happens, and an angel falls into my life" says Larsen. "I love them all."

This Blue Star Mother has more than a little extra love to share with America's fighting men and women deployed overseas.

She has a small bedroom in her home stacked with brightly-colored Christmas bags loaded with snacks, books and personal items for the troops in Afghanistan. On the wall, pictures of three generations of soldiers from her family, and more recent photos of all the troops she's "adopted."

In a sense, her support work has become a full-time passion.

"Yeah," she says, "but, it's the best thing, heroes all around me."

Two years ago, her son, Sgt. Christian Larsen was deployed in Kuwait with the Utah National Guard. She sent him care packages, and started to send extra goodies for his fellow soldiers who got very little.

Operation Adopt a Ghost takes its name from her son's unit, the Ghost Rider Task Force. Now, her network supports Soldiers, Marines and Airmen from across the country, all year round.

"In the doldrums of summer, it gets pretty miserable over there. So, we like to send them games and sports equipment."

In the winter, it's warm blankets, cocoa and Valentines and for Easter, special gift eggs.

The operation could use more space, but she doesn't like the idea of a warehouse. Larsen prefers packing here, in her son's old bedroom, that is now Adopt a Ghost central.

"None of it's intentional," she says. "But, it all seems to work."

She manages it all with about 200 volunteers who are pretty steady, and about 100 others that come and go as the units are deployed and come home.

"The right person is always in the right place for some reason. So, it must be what we're supposed to be doing," she said.

Workers with Northrop Grumman filled the bags Monday. The bags themselves were stitched by several sisters at Salt Lake Community College.

In all, the operation has shipped a few tons, and hundreds of boxes of donated items, everything from gym shoes to rat traps.

Larsen feels a personal connection with all the troops, and lets them know, they're all welcome to visit her when they come home.

Volunteers and contributions have come from every corner of the country, and it's not slowing down.

"I don't think I'm that great of an organizer, but I'm a really good cheerleader, and, I'm good at telling people, I really appreciate you."




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Jed Boal


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