NY1 reporter Erin Clark shares a heartwarming story about a Bronx woman from Country Club known as Aunt Cathy to thousands of soldiers stationed abroad who’ve received one of her almost 5,000 care packages.
Catherine Praino began sending care packages and adopting platoons overseas after her own nephew, Christian Engeldrum, was killed in Afghanistan in a roadside bombing attack.
“I can’t do it for Chris. When we get a new platoon, I tell them I lost my nephew and I’m adopting them,” Praino said.
Now, Aunt Cathy has thousands of military nieces and nephews who receive goodie boxes with handwritten notes. Sometimes they write back.
“‘Dear Aunt Cathy, you can’t know how special you’ve made me feel, because in the bottom of one of the boxes was a bottle of nail polish,'” one letter read. “‘I’ll probably stay up late tonight to enjoy a little treat. That means so much.'”
It’s gratitude for a job that is not always easy for the 73-year-old and her volunteers. But when Praino thinks she cannot do it anymore, she uses her lost nephew as inspiration.
“We have his picture here that I move around all the time and I talk to him every day,” Praino said. “And when I get depressed and I look down and say, ‘Chris, I’m tired,’ and he tells me with that smirk and those eyes, ‘Keep going. They need you.'”
But for Praino to keep going, she says she needs help. People donate items like toothpaste and eye drops, but it is expensive to send packages to Afghanistan.
“We have to spend $15.90 each box to mail it,” she said. “Now, times 4,800, that’s quite a bit.”
State Senator Jeff Klein has stepped in to give Praino some money and to make his office a drop-off point for donations. He also plans to highlight her efforts at Sunday’s Veterans Day breakfast in Throggs Neck.” Watch NY1’s report and Aunt Cathy in action helping our armed forces
It’s people like Aunt Cathy scattered throughout The Bronx making a difference that makes our borough a special place in the world.
Welcome2TheBronx supports our troops even though we can never understand their experiences and what the horrors of war does to them, it is our obligation to be there for our soldiers and provide for them in whatever capacity we can as a community and push our government to give them the necessary aid and treatment they deserve for being sent into conflicts.
Our veterans deserve better and let’s NEVER forget that.
To contact Senator Klein to drop-off items and donations for Aunt Cathy’s care packages to our men and women overseas you may do so at:
Bronx , NY 10461