Thanks To Yanks Makes Impact On Veterans, Active Military
Hopedale veterans, first responders and Girl Scouts are just a few local groups helped by Thanks to Yanks.
“In Hopedale, we have worked with the Girl Scouts in the collection of cookies that we then send overseas to those deployed. We have the Scouts cut out the stars of American Flags prior to proper disposal, we then have the stars laminated and given out to veterans as a thank you.
“Thanks to Yanks also supports First Responders, we had custom coffee roasted called Hopedale Firehouse roast and donated to the Hopedale fire department,” said Mike Shain, who runs the organization.
Many years ago, Shain became inspired to support veterans after attending a lunch-in for a post memorial day parade, and decided to start Thanks to Yanks, a non-political 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support military members, veterans, and their families.
“Thanks to Yanks is for saying thank you. It is an attitude of appreciation for those who serve and especially for the families of those who serve,” he said.
Shain said he comes across many people don’t know there are servicemen who are deployed.
“While yes, it’s true they aren’t in Afghanistan, we do have people overseas. There is actually a mass contingency of the Mass National Guard in the Middle East, so we just sent them girl scout cookies,” he said
In addition to sending over the sweet treats, Thanks to Yanks also sent over thank you cards written by the Milford Senior Center.
Shain touched on a photo of soldiers sipping Dunkin’ coffee on the Thanks to Yanks website, noting the coffees in one hand and guns in the other.
“These soldiers were doing sniper training for another government. I reached out to them and asked them what they can use and everyone drinks coffee,” he said.
He said the soldiers requested K-cups, so Shain reached out to the franchise owner of Dunkin’ who is based in Holliston and owns many Dunkin’ shops in the area. Shain said he provided Thanks to Yanks with the K-cups to send over to the soldiers.
Aside from sending the cookies, cards and coffee, Thanks to Yanks also runs a program called Hope for Heroes, which is held near veterans day each year.
At the event, volunteers collect items for veteran homeless shelters. Additionally, they collect items such as snacks and games to fill care packages.
“A taste of home is always appreciated,” Shain said.
He explained that post 9/11, he believed there should be a way to thank military families for the service of their loved ones, so he organized the 9/11 dinner, an event for military families to dine together, which lasted for 13 years.
In addition to commemorating military servicemen and their loved ones, the dinner also celebrates the fallen first responders of 9/11.
“We had 450 guests who all came for free. Again, it was just a way for us to say thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice,” he said.
Shain added that during the last three years of the dinner, the Medal of Liberty, an award given to the families of a soldier who died in action, was awarded to a family.
“We were blessed to be able to incorporate the Medal of Liberty Ceremony into our 9/11 dinner,” he said.
Thanks to Yanks Volunteer Maggie McIssac said working with Shain is “an absolute pleasure” and that he “puts his heart and soul” into the organization.
“You can see his excitement at an event when he is selflessly helping and doing good things for others. Mike is a great listener with innovative ideas while also offering sound, wise advice. He has the best intentions with what he is doing and he is always incredibly grateful to all those who help contribute to the cause, no matter how big or small that contribution may be,” she said.
McIssac touched on the impact of Thanks to Yanks.
“Thanks to Yanks is such an important organization because there are not a lot of civilian lead support groups for active military, veterans, and their families in the area. The outreach from the proceeds raised over the years has extended to areas all over New England and worldwide,” she said.
McIssac continued, “Mike and his organization has touched the lives of so many countless service men and women and their families. There will also be a need to support the military veterans in so many various capacities, and that is why it is so important to have a nonprofit group like Thanks To Yanks.”