THE final box had just been filled, sealed and added to the pile which was waiting to be sent to the Middle East.
Despite being three members down, a small group of local boys and their leader, Carole Johnston, had reached the target of packing 118 boxes in five weeks for Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt.
Items carefully placed in each parcel included hand and facial wipes, small Australian flags, food, and other donated goodies.
Member Logan Milton-Smith took a well-earned break to explain what being involved in the Aberdeen Care Package Cadets meant to him.
“It’s just really good to be able to do something for other people,” he said.
“I enjoy coming here after school and helping out.”
The group’s ongoing dedication has become well-known throughout the Upper Hunter region and within Australian military circles.
A helicopter from H.M.A.S. Newcastle flew up to Aberdeen on Remembrance Day last year to thank the Care Package Cadets for their efforts.
More than 190 boxes, which were packed in just six weeks, had been sent to the H.M.A.S Newcastle crew alone.
The cadets were then further recognised with the Community Group of the Year award during Aberdeen's Australia Day celebrations.
Founder Mrs Johnston said, while accolades were always nice, her main aim was to teach the boys to do something without a reward.
“I think they’ve learned that they are really making a difference to someone’s life,” she said.
“It could be the smallest thing like a broken hair brush, and then all of a sudden one turns up.”
Interest in joining the group has continued to grow since its formation in 2011.
However, Mrs Johnston said it wasn’t practical to expand the number of members.
“It’d be lovely if we could have more kids, they ask all the time,” she said.
“But we didn’t start it off to be like scouts, we just got it running to try and make a difference.”
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