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State Honoree

Hannah Burlingham

Montana

Hannah Burlingham, 14, of Hamilton, Mont., an eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School and a member of the Ravalli County 4-H, created "Operation Cloverleaf," an ongoing effort to collect donations and assemble care packages for members of the U.S. military serving overseas. "Our servicemen and women are doing great things all over the world," Hannah said. "I really do feel that these men and women are heroes."

To let U.S. troops know they're appreciated back home, Hannah decided to send them "Montana Freedom Boxes." She began by soliciting donations from veterans groups, civic organizations, businesses, and people attending garage sales, parades and craft shows. With these funds, she purchased snacks, stationery, stamps, socks, toiletries, magazines and other products, and packed them into boxes with the assistance of volunteers from her 4-H group and a local retirement home. Hannah also included a personal letter in each box. She then filled out customs forms and mailed the packages to servicemen and women whose names she collected from members of her community. So far, Hannah has shipped more than 150 Montana Freedom Boxes. "I became involved in this project so our troops will know that I love them and that I'm thankful to be an American," said Hannah.