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FEATURE - "Thankful For Our Troops" raises the bar on gift-giving

Sofa and Patti Grover, pictured with some of this year's helpers, are in their seventh year of providing Christmas care packages for troops overseas. Courtesy Photo

GARLAND - Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, December 18, 2021

If you drive past Farmers Insurance in Tremonton, be prepared to get patriotic. Agent Jared Summers said he is more than willing to display his American pride for all to see, specifically Old Glory flying more than 70 feet in the air over his business.

“It may not be the biggest flag in town, but I am pretty sure it is the tallest,” he said.

But flag waving is just one of the ways this business has demonstrated patriotism.

Patriotism is strong at Farmers Insurance in Tremonton, as evidenced by this 70 ft. tall flag pole and the flag flying over the office. Agent Jared Summers and his clients added to that patriotism by donating money to help ship the care packages. Courtesy Photo

After reading a Facebook post from Sofa’s Corner about their annual military fundraising efforts, Summers said he wanted to join the cause. Farmers Insurance generously donated $1,000 to help with the Thankful For Our Troops campaign and got clients and friends to donate, as well.

Patti and Shane (Sofa) Grover, owners of Sofa's Corner, a bar in Garland, have been spearheading this fundraiser for the past seven years.

Patti said the first year, one of their employees had a tragedy involving a military family member. The owners decided their Christmas efforts that year would be focused on those away from home during the holidays and what they might need to help brighten the loneliness. Sixteen boxes filled with necessities and a few fun items were put together and shipped to local military personnel serving overseas. With that Thankful For Our Troops began.

“This was something different,” Patti said. “These troops have given their lives for us, and we wanted to give back.”

This year, during the first week of December, 76 care packages were filled and shipped to APO addresses and should arrive at their destinations just in time for Christmas. The military recipients are all locals or relatives of residents.

A total of 76 care boxes were filled with a variety of necessities and surprises. Courtesy Photo

The push for box fillers begins in October, according to Patti. It is then that she opens a bridal registry on Amazon. Thankful For is the bride’s name and Our Troops is the groom. With that, she picks out usable items that can easily be shipped, i.e., socks, jerky, nuts, sunflower seeds, Chapstick, sunglasses, card games, word search books and much more. The Grovers encourage their patrons and the public to pick out “wedding gifts” for the imaginary couple. These purchases are shipped directly to the bar owners.

Patti said she has gotten seasoned advice along the way on what should be included. “We talk to veterans every chance we get to find out what they miss the most from home,” she said. “One captain told us they hadn’t seen deodorant for six months.” That is another item now included in each gift box.

Then in November, Sofa’s Corner has its Thankful For Our Troops drive. Those in the community who are used to this fundraiser know that is the time to bring in or Venmo cash donations, collect items that can be added to the boxes, or even donate bigger items to be used as prizes for the bar’s big Bingo Night held the first Saturday in December.

While Bingo winners take home great prizes during the fun-filled evening of number calling, the money paid for each Bingo card helps cover shipping, which amounts to about $18 a box.

That is where the Farmers Insurance pledge came in handy, Patti said, and added that Fielding Fire Department is a regular contributor to the Thankful for Our Troops fundraiser, while Dr Rod Gardner donated toothbrushes to add to the boxes.

Another huge morale donor was Athenian eAcademy in Tremonton. Patti said the school children there wrote letters and drew pictures to be included in the care packages. She would like to see more schools become involved so all the troops can get “letters from back home.”

All the boxes were filled the day after the Bingo Bash, thanks to help from family members and some of the Academy students, then shipped the next day.

The Grovers hope to continue this fundraiser next year and many more years to come. With the help of businesses and community support they planned to increase the number of military men and women being gifted.

“We have a great community around here,” Patti said. “Anytime we have done a fundraiser, we get support from them.”

Jared Summers and Farmers Insurance plan on being in that support line again next year. “This was our first year,” Summer said. “We were glad to help out, to do what we could. I would like to see more people participate. It’s all about our troops and being patriotic.”

The filled boxes are all sent to an APO address and should arrive by Christmas, hopefully brightening the holidays for troops away for home during the holidays. Courtesy Photo


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