Creating Christmas in July: Alan Krutchkoff

Alan Krutchkoff, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, creates care packages for soldiers overseas through his non-profit, Adopt-a-Platoon.

Alan Krutchkoff of Fair Lawn, founder of the non-profit Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon.
Alan Krutchkoff of Fair Lawn, founder of the non-profit Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon.
Photo by John Emerson

Alan Krutchkoff got an upsetting call in spring 2003 from his wife, Mary-Edna. She had been involved in a fender bender. But his feelings changed when he learned more about the woman who hit Mary-Edna’s car. Her son-in-law was being deployed to Iraq. Krutchkoff, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, decided to “adopt” the young soldier by sending him care packages.

After Krutchkoff mailed the first package, word spread among his colleagues at Unilever. Friends and neighbors began giving him money to create care packages for their relatives serving overseas. Eventually, Krutchkoff launched the non-profit Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon.

In time, the care packages escalated from jars of peanut butter and shampoo to donated exercise equipment and big-screen televisions. Unilever is a major contributor to the cause, even though Krutchkoff retired in 2009. The consumer-goods giant donates products and space in its warehouse in Cresskill. Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon sends about 3,000 boxes a year.

“We send a box, and it’s like Christmas in July,” says Krutchkoff. “We don’t send junk. We want to make them feel special.”

Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon is also proud of its wounded-care program, directed by Mary-Edna, a registered nurse. Other initiatives include Camp4Heroes, a planned retreat for injured service men and women, under development in North Carolina. The organization also buys special vehicles for amputees and funds therapy for soldiers struggling with PTSD.

Krutchkoff, who lives in Fair Lawn, “waves away thanks or praise,” says Lauren Costa, the organization’s logistics director. “He doesn’t do this for the accolades.” Instead, Krutchkoff is thankful to make a difference.

“We get e-mails saying, ‘you saved my life,’” he says. “We’re blessed to be in a position to impact lives.”

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