At the age of 10, Kahne Loftus began sending care packages to soldiers who were stationed overseas for the holidays.
In Loftus’ first year, the Rainier resident sent 40 packages with items and goodies. The next year, that number grew to 100. Then in 2020, the number of packages increased to 228 and this year, Loftus plans to send over 400 packages overseas.
“It feels fantastic to see how much this project has grown,” Loftus said. “I never thought it would grow so much and get so much support.”
Loftus enjoys letting servicemembers know they are not forgotten while they are deployed and located away from the families during the holidays.
His inspiration for the project came after Loftus experienced an immense loss for the first time. On Oct. 7, 2016, his uncle, Derek Harris, died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 31. Loftus thought of him as his best friend and his nickname for Harris was “Uncle Dude.” It was the first time that Loftus, who was 10 at the time, lost a loved one while being old enough to understand what death was.
Kahne’s mother, Darcy, looked for ways to help him cope. She reached out to a friend, Misty Marshell, whose husband was in the military. They then reached out to a friend in Afghanistan and Kahne received his first pen pal.
“We will never replace ‘Uncle Dude’ but having a pen pal has helped him cope with missing him and start healing in the process,” Darcy said. “Kahne’s pen pal was amazing to Kahne, and in the process of writing back and forth, Kahne is learning about the military and what they do. He did not realize that during the holidays, the soldiers stay overseas, and do not get to come home to their families, and that devastated him.”
So Loftus worked on how he could make the holidays the best he could for troops located overseas. He reached out to friends and family members for donations and sent care packages overseas to his pen pal and his unit in Afghanistan.
Since beginning “Kahne’s Kare Packages,” Loftus has sent nearly 600 packages to U.S. troops.
“Over the last few years, Kahne has met some amazing soldiers and made some great friendships,” Darcy said.
On Nov. 5, Kahne’s Kare Packages will host its Christmas Shop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 411 Volesky Drive SE in Rainier. People can get all of their holiday shopping in one place by buying homemade items crafted by Loftus. All of the money will go toward the care packages.
“I put in as much of my free time as I can,” Loftus said about Kahne’s Kare Packages. “Our troops deserve the best and I want to send as many care packages to as many military personnel as we can.”
Loftus said the more time he can put into making projects to sell, the more money he can raise to funnel toward more packages. His mom, Darcy, and dad, Scott, help, as does Lucky Ann, the owner of The Hideway, the Roughnecks Motorcycle club and the local community. Loftus said he is super grateful for their support.
One of the biggest challenges, however, has been the cost.
“The biggest challenge is the rising cost of shipping and raising the funds to send the care packages,” Loftus said.
Darcy said shipping this year could be between $8,000 and $10,000.
In order to ship the packages, Loftus needs the name of an individual soldier. They usually get names through various connections. The service person then gets multiple packages that they can give to their unit.
“If we go by our count now, we have 118 sailors and soldiers, so we usually do double or triple that amount,” Darcy said.
Another fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 11. There will be a silent auction raffle and night of fun from 4 to 9 p.m. to raise money for Kahne’s Kare Packages at The Hideaway in Spanaway. Auction items include clocks, tables, key hangers and other items that Loftus has made throughout the year.
“These two events bring in a good chunk of money and we fundraise all year,” Darcy said. “Kahne really spends most of the year making things to sell for these fundraisers.”
People can follow Kahne’s Kare Packages on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/370624063938648.