A ‘small’ reminder: Waco company offers customers free toy soldiers to remember service members

Green army men figurines are being used to connect axe throwers to soldiers overseas
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A company in Waco is thinking ‘outside the box’...the ammo find a way to honor U.S. service members.

In the corner of Waco Axe Company lies an old ammunition box filled with toy soldiers and a note: “Please take a soldier home and place it somewhere that will remind you to pray for the men and women serving our country.”

”It’s one of those things where you genuinely kind of get a little choked up because you don’t think about your people who are overseas,” said Will Craig, Operations Manager at Waco Axe Co. “They do a lot for us that some people kind of take for granted.”

Craig borrowed the idea from a bar in Georgetown called Mesquite Creek Outfitters.

“Every time I’d go there I thought it was the coolest thing,” said Craig. “We’re looking to shift our brand a little bit more toward military and armed forces, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity considering we have a lot of military that come in here, it was a perfect fit for here.”

The owner of Waco Axe Co., Thomas Ellis, was a special ops Army Ranger.

“When you are overseas, it is tough because you feel disconnected from your life back home,” said Ellis. “I really think that when you do have someone back home thinking about you, people that you don’t even know, it’s just one of those comforting feelings, especially overseas.”

Ellis says many of his employees are veterans, too.

He says axe throwing is great for stress release and PTSD, and recreates some of the comradery former service members may miss when they return home.

“When you’re out, you’re kind of off on your own little island, and coming here with some friends or meeting some of the other veterans that are working here....just talking and throwing and competing...just adds a sense of togetherness,” said Ellis.

He says it’s been special seeing how customers have embraced their free box of plastic green army men.

“It’s near and dear to my heart, and I love that people have embraced that and are thinking about those soldiers,” said Ellis. “People used to take pictures of our murals here--now they’re taking pictures of our box.”

Craig says the idea has really taken off.

“We’ll have people that come in here once, and they come in again, and they’re like ‘can I take another one?’ and we’re like ‘yeah, 100 percent, make your own little squad,’” he laughed. “The response has been phenomenal, people have really embraced it, we’re getting an outpour from military families, they really appreciate it.”

Craig put out the wooden box about a month ago.

They hope the little box will make a big difference in terms of honoring men and women in uniform, past and present, and increasing patriotism.

“If it means something to someone or you tie that relationship to that little figurine, that little toy soldier, it makes you think about them a little more than you normally would,” said Craig. “Everybody should spend little bit of time thinking about them because they do a lot for us.”

Waco Axe Co. also offers military discounts to show appreciation.

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