Being deployed is hard.

Those who serve their country are far away from home and their loved ones, and that only makes the reality of a deployment all the more difficult.

Joshua Goche of Lucan knows this all too well, as he is currently serving in Kuwait.

Goche, a first sergeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, left behind a family and his community when he was deployed as part of the 851st Vertical Engineer Company, which is based out of Camp Ripley.

When his deployment comes to an end, he and his company will have been away for just shy of 12 months.

At any given time the troops in the engineer company can be forward deployed to up to six different countries at any given time, and when that happens some amenities can be limited. So, when a soldier receives a care package from home, it can be a real boost to their morale. 

Ann Goche, First Sergeant Goche’s step mom and a fifth-grade teacher at Redwood Valley Middle School, has been teaching students about the value of giving back to the community and serving others, and as part of that the students in Goche’s homebase have been coordinating a project to send care packages to Goche and the soldiers he is serving with in Kuwait.

“We challenged all of the home bases in the middle school to make items for the troops,” said Goche, adding the students were told those items would then be boxed up and mailed to Kuwait.

The middle-school students took on the challenge and got busy creatively putting together messages and gifts for those who are serving, and Goche expressed just how impressed she has been with the fact that so many students have really bought into this project.

Hailyn Ourada, a student at RVMS who is in Goche’s homebase, said she has had fun working on the project, adding it is a good thing to do because those receiving the care packages are doing so much to “serve us.”

Ourada, who is also a member of the RVMS student council, approached that group, and it committed funds to help cover the costs of shipping the care packages.

Goche added a Thrivent Financial grant was also awarded to help cover the costs of getting the care packages to the soldiers.

First Sergeant Goche, who has been a member of the National Guard for nearly 17 years, said part of his role as a leader is to focus on the welfare of each member of the unit.

“I am blessed to see firsthand the expression on a soldier’s face when I hand them a care package,” said Goche. “Each care package we receive, no matter who or what organization it comes from, is a piece of love from home. The generosity and support that we have received from the communities has been overwhelming.”

First Sergeant Goche added he can’t thank everyone enough for the support of the unit, adding the gifts received ensured he has not lost any weight through the 130-degree summer weather.

Ann Goche said she is hopeful the packages, which were sent earlier this week, can reach the unit before Christmas. She added the post office has been very helpful during the process of preparing the care packages to be shipped.

According to the United States Postal Service, it is recommended to send the cards, letters and packages to those serving overseas as soon as is possible to make sure they arrive by Christmas. To ensure timely delivery, those items need to be shipped no later than Dec. 11, although there are no absolute guarantees.

To learn more about shipping items to those in the military who are serving overseas, visit usps.com.

Ann Goche said of all of the things students are taught in school she believes the real learning takes place when students are able to look beyond themselves and lend a hand to others, including those they have never met.

There are 158 soldiers serving with First Sergeant Goche who will be receiving gifts from the students of RVMS with creative messages intended to encourage them and give them a little piece of home. That way they can celebrate a little bit of Christmas wherever they are.