This Veterans Day we’re thinking about all of the men and women who have served our country. We were reminded of this during a recent reporting trip to Tampa, Florida, where we found a general store on a mission.
Opened this fall, Brooksie’s Market is a place where locals can buy fresh-cut flowers, spices, and works by local artisans. Owner Michelle Brooks opened the store (in a Seminole Heights bungalow) to help fund her efforts to send encouraging care packages and cards to the troops.
Michelle left her job in Starbucks management to open the market, where she sells her own handmade greeting cards, as well as artwork, linens, and fresh produce. But you can usually find her in the side room, where she’s making cards for soldiers serving overseas.
“I wanted to send cards to support the troops, and didn’t see any that I loved, so I decided to make my own,” Michelle says. “I’d had a great life in corporate America, but at 50 I decided I had one more more chance. The cards are my chance to give back,” she says.
Michelle brings her handmade cards to local elementary students, who write messages of encouragement to the troops. Working with groups like Semper Fi Sisters , the cards are enclosed in care packages and distributed to members of the military (all branches) serving around the world.
The messages are touching.
They are messages are also personal for Michelle. Her son Aaron, 23, is serving in Afghanistan. With each letter addressed, she thinks of him.
We salute Michelle — as a mom of a serviceman, her work in supporting our troops, and for creating community in thanking those who protect our country.
To purchase handcrafted holiday cards that will be signed and sent to troops oversees, visit Brooksie’s Market ($20/box). Brooksie’s Market is located at 5805 N. Florida Ave, (813)446-2187.