Volunteers fill bags with toys for children of fallen soldiers

Volunteers fill bags with toys for children of fallen soldiers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Volunteers with American Airlines, United Service Organizations of North Carolina and the Carolina Panthers put together more than 200 bags filled with toys and fun items for children who've lost a loved one while serving our country.

Bob Seele, a volunteer with USO, knows it makes a difference.

"I happen to be a gold star kid," Seele said. "My dad was killed in WWII and I understand what it's like to grow up without a parent. They need this. The attitude they come in with is unbelievable."

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On Saturday, 144 children and their families are coming to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. They’re going to get a Carolina Panthers/American Airlines bag as they board their flight to Orlando, where they will spend five days at Disney World.

Gary Sinise Foundation is helping pay for the trip for the Snowball Express families. Snowball Express supports families who've lost someone in the military.

Former Carolina Panthers Mike Rucker and Steve Smith said the effort will make a difference. Both said their involvement with the military is personal.

"I always say that if I didn’t play national football, I would go somewhere in the military," Rucker said. "Really love what USO is doing."

Smith said the USO has brought him to military camps all across the world. He said he always thinks about the sacrifice service members make for us.

"So today it’s a nickel, a coin in the bucket of what these men and woman have done, and what these families go through when they're deployed, when they are off serving, when they put their lives on the line," Smith said.