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Highlighting Organizations Serving our Greater Rochester Community: One Soldier at a Time

Q&A with Lauren Coe, Founder, One Soldier at a Time

November 2023

“They get so excited to see what we've brought them.”

What prompted the start of One Soldier at a Time?

We started in 2006 after a dear friend lost her son just two weeks before he was supposed to come home. I was absolutely heartbroken for her. They started the “Molly Fund” in honor of his five-year-old daughter to help with her future education.

Another friend had her Marine son go overseas and he did come home safe and sound, however, she really struggled. In the depths of her struggle, she found a way to heal her soul and that was by starting a project called Full Circle Home. She blesses moms and wives all over the US with beautiful gifts throughout the year. I was like, “Wow, more people need to be doing something like that. I honestly felt the Holy Spirit touch my heart with, ‘why not you?’"

A few years later we learned of the huge need for our veterans who didn't even have basic needs. That is when we started the “Hygiene Packages of Hope” project.

One Soldier at a Time

How many veterans do you serve annually?

Last year we sponsored just shy of 2,700 Veterans with Hygiene Packages of Hope. This year our goal is 3000. Next year we are looking to expand to 3,500 veterans who are either homeless, impoverished, or living in PTSD homes or VA hospitals.

What is the impact you see on these individuals?

The biggest impact I personally see is the "joy" they have in receiving these packages. They get so excited to see what we've brought them. We don't just bring the packages but also clothing, shoes, and household items.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing veterans who rely on your program?

They have many challenges. They also struggle with getting the services they are due. COVID did a huge number. The isolation coupled with not getting the services they needed was a recipe for suicide. The U.S was losing 22 veterans a day before the pandemic and that number went way up. Our veterans feel broken and that they don't have a purpose. We do our best to make sure they hear us tell them that just because they aren't as they were doesn't mean they don't have just as much purpose as before.

Many suffer with survivor’s guilt. That breaks my heart.

When they receive our packages, they also receive a handmade card from someone they don't know who cares to let them know they matter and that they are valued. Sometimes that alone makes all the difference in the world.

Additional needs would be 6000 handmade cards to give to our veterans each year. We also need deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and all travel size-items. All these things cost money.

I personally have been giving 10% of my personal income to the project since its inception so that every penny that comes in goes right back out to them.

What else do you think is important for people to know?

What I would like most for our fellow Americans to know is that we can all make a difference. We all have something to give. Whether it's your time, talents, treasures, or all the above. We can all make a difference and we at One Soldier at a Time give everyone a place to play and get involved.

What has it been like working with ESL?

Working with ESL has been so overwhelming. In a good way. The ESL team has made hundreds of cards for us and donated items for our packages, and ESL as a company donated $7,000.00 this past year, which impacted 200 veterans! So amazing!!

In recognition of Veterans Day, what message would you like to send to veterans?

Freedom isn't free. We recognize you; we see you and you matter to everyone who calls themselves an American. Don't give up. This is not your forever, it is just your right now.

Thank you for paying the price for me, my family and every American.

To learn more about One Soldier at a Time, please email