Marines to honor woman devoted to helping troops

Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 21:27:18-05

SAN DIEGO - Camp Pendleton Marines are planning to honor a big military supporter on Wednesday.

Maxine Russell wants service members to know someone cares.

"I've sent now almost 7,200 [care] packages," she told Marines.

There is little room left in her kitchen for her own food. Her cabinets are packed with food for our troops.

"Each unit is kind of different. Some like the regular Chex Mix, some like cashews, others are so health conscious they want unsalted almonds," she explained.

Russell was not always consumed by care packages. The Marines say it started with one during Operation Desert Shield.

"One of my dear friends, her husband is a Marine pilot, and when he was deployed I got his address and that spiraled into a lot more Marines," she said. "I really do this because I'm passionate. I love the military and I want to show my support."

There is one person she can't send one to. She had to bury her son Darren in 2005.

"I remember being in a temple, and the rabbi was saying, 'I'm sure those of you who have lost loved ones would rather be with them, but if you do that, who's going to keep their memory alive?' And it was just like a light when off," Russell added.

She could not make Darren's favorite meal or send him an 'I love you' package, but she could make someone else's son smile. So, she started crafting care packages in his honor. She also became a grief counselor since she knows some troops will not make it home.

"When I'm going through a difficult time, sitting and reading the letters and looking at pictures with everybody smiling or holding up all the Girl Scout cookies, it just makes me feel good like I'm making a difference," Russell said.

While the Marines cannot protect her son, they are helping to heal her heart by making her feel like part of their family.