JOLIET — Six years ago, Geriann Wiesbrook learned firsthand what it meant to have a kid serving overseas.
But as he wrote back to her, she also learned many of those he served with were in need of help themselves. Among them, moms and dads who were struggling to hold their own families together back home.
Desperate to do something, Geriann created a Facebook group called "The Military Mama Network," enlisting her fellow moms in her mission to help those serving overseas, and their families.
"People don't talk about the shame you feel as a parent when you can't give to your kids," Geriann said. "It just broke me inside. I can't imagine as a mom."
Before long, requests began pouring in from parents all over the world in need of things for the kids they left behind. Everything from toys to warm winter coats.
After she put the call out for others to step in and help, hundreds of donated gifts began arriving every day. That was when Geriann's home turned into a gift processing shop.
"We want them to know that we represent the American people," Geriann said. "We stand with you and will walk with you."
So far, over 2,000 presents will go under the tree for 450 kids. And a handwritten card went out to the moms and dads who couldn't be home for Christmas.
"Because if you're serving our country, we want you to know there is someone in our country that sees you and holds your heart, even if it's just for that moment when you open that card," Geriann said.