WESTMONT – When Karen Kleemann’s daughter asked her mom to send more letters while she enrolled in Army basic training in Oklahoma, Kleemann recruited a local Brownie troop for some assistance.
Kleemann, a librarian at the Westmont Public Library, approached Brownie Troop 51982, a Westmont group of three girls, asking them to make a few valentines for her daughter, 25-year-old Megan Kleeman.
Days later, Kleemann returned to the library to find 119 crafted valentines from Girl Scouts and Brownies around the area addressed to her daughter and other troops in basic training. Kleemann said seeing the abundance of cards had her ready to cry.
“It was one of those amazing feelings,” said Kleemann, of Westmont. “These little girls took the time for my kid and the troops she’s with to make the cards and thank them … It was a step above and beyond, they touched a lot of people by doing that.”
There were enough cards to hand out to all the troops in Megan Kleeman’s platoon, according to Kleemann. She said her daughter left for training at Fort Sill on Dec. 30 and can only communicate through written letters.
“I’m proud of her,” Kleemann said. “It’s a frightening choice but she’s really doing a lot of good.”
When her daughter finally decided to join the military, Kleemann said Megan chose to go into cryptology – interpreting codes and listening to chatter.
The jump from three cards to 119 came after troop leader Brenda Bylaitis emailed the information out to about four or five other troops around the area asking girls to make valentines.
“Knowing how small my troop is, to spread the word meant we could do more,” Bylaitis said.
For the Girl Scouts and Brownies troops, the act proved to the young girls that something small can mean something big.
“You’re not too small too make a difference,” Bylaitis said. “Sometimes even the simplest thank you can touch the heart of someone who is doing something you don’t always feel appreciated for.”
After seeing the turnout, Bylaitis said this is something she plans to continue every year.
“It’s not difficult to spread the word sooner and do even more next year, especially when someone will appreciate what they do,” Bylaitis said.