The Colt Family’s Priceless Gift

December 19, 2017

As the end of 2017 draws to a close, we want to take this time to thank everyone who has contributed to United Through Reading. Your support, big or small, helps United Through Reading provide priceless gifts to military families around the world.

One of those families is the Colts. Lauren Colt, now a brilliant 15-year-old, stood before us at our 2017 annual Storybook Ball in November and reminded us how every story we read aloud with children has the power to create an everlasting impression in their lives.

In 2009, Lauren’s father, Colonel Ross Colt, set off on a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. Her mother, Holly Colt, fought back tears as anxieties came rushing back from his first deployment. Watching her husband give hugs and kisses to his 4-year-old “little man”, Jack and his 7-year-old “little princess”, Lauren was just the beginning of the emotional roller coaster that comes with deployments.

Eight years later, Lauren vividly remembers how, while her father was risking his life providing medical support in Baghdad, her mother tried to keep a normal routine at their home in Tacoma, Washington. But inevitably, “the stress began to creep in, tempers became shorter and worry clouded every decision and action”.

Wishing nothing more than the safe return of her father and all those who were selflessly serving alongside him, Lauren also clearly recalls the day she and Jack received an “unexpected, precious treasure” in the mailbox. It wasn’t an expensive gift…but it was priceless. It only took a few minutes of time to make but would offer endless hours of comfort for months to come.

The package contained a book and a DVD sent from Camp Buehring, Kuwait- her father’s first stop before heading to Camp Victory in Baghdad. From 8,000 miles away, Colonel Colt sent a recording of himself reading a book called The Kissing Hand written by Audrey Penn.

In the book, little Chester Raccoon is scared to go to school and would rather stay home cuddling with his mother and play with his toys. His mother proceeds to share a secret with him – she kisses his palm and tells him that whenever he feels lonely and wants love from home, all he has to do is press his “kissing hand” against his cheek and remember, “Mommy loves you, Mommy loves you”.

This was the first of four treasured DVD bedtime story recordings that showed up in the Pacific Northwest all the way from the Middle East. Lauren and Jack watched their father’s video over and over. Delighted when he would blow each of them a kiss and tell them, that like little Chester, he too wished he were home cuddling.

Even though her father was far away in an entirely different time zone, with the help of United Through Reading, he was present every night at bedtime to tell Lauren and Jack, “Daddy loves you, Daddy loves you” just before they bowed their heads with him and prayed together.

As we look ahead to the new year, we want to pause to take the time and thank the many volunteers, donors, sponsors, and supporters of United Through Reading who make stories like the Colt family’s possible. Your commitment to our program has and will continue to help families stay connected over vast distances for years to come. Thank you!