I get asked a lot about my involvement with our military and different organizations who support our troops. Sometimes people give me the nod with the bottom lip half poked out as to say, “I get that.” Others simply move on. The rest fluctuate in between. Those who have known me for any length of time, whether it be through the blogisphere or in real life, know my passion and commitment are as real and as true as they can be. The two groups I do the most with are Soldiers’ Angels and Blue Star Mothers of NC.
I want to take a minute to answer some of the regularly asked questions that maybe some of you have wondered about, too.
Where do all the care packages, letters, treats, etc. go? Anywhere and everywhere there is a service member; Philippines, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, ships, and VA hospitals stateside and abroad, to name a few. We have troops all over the world.
How do you get names and can you share them? I get them from either people I personally know who are deployed or through my volunteer organizations. No, unfortunately, I cannot share them for security reasons.
What goes in care packages? Soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, individually wrapped snacks (i.e. cookies, granola bars), beef jerky, gum, cards, books, magazines, stationery and games to name off a few.
Do I ever get thanked? Yes, sometimes but it’s not expected and thanks are not what I strive for – AT ALL. I get more thanks from folks who receive a simple letter or card than I do care packages, for whatever reason, but it doesn’t matter. I do what I do because it’s what my heart desires.
Why is it such a big deal? When I first started volunteering, I read a post from a lady who wrote to a soldier weekly while he was deployed but she never heard back from him and had no idea he had returned home until her letters started being returned as undeliverable. In every letter she wrote that she was praying for him. It wasn’t until several months after he returned home did he write her back. In his letter, he told her he had a hard time reintegrating back into life and, if I’m not mistaken, he was suffering from PTSD. He then told her it was her letters and her telling him she prayed for him that helped get him through. That’s why it is a big deal. That is what volunteering is all about. It’s not a contest; it’s an outreach of support no matter what the cause. I get emails for special alert requests and I’d like to share some of the things I’ve read:
I’m on my third deployment. My family acts like it is no big deal so they don’t write or anything. It makes me sad.
I’m married with four kids and this is my fifth deployment. My wife and kids don’t write to me.
I order things just so I can hear my name at mail call.
It just seems everyone hates us.
Nobody cares about the good we do. The media just focuses on the bad.
Thank you for anything you are able to do. We appreciate it.
These are only a sampling of why it’s a big deal. We all have different views on different things but kindness is something there should be no dividing lines on. I buy a pad of paper with 100 sheets for $1. A box of envelopes $1. A book of stamps $41. For a total of $43 and a few hours of my time, I can reach out to 100 of our country’s finest. I also make cards, buy cards and a dear friend of mine who works for a printing company donated 2,500 cards preprinted with a message I wrote. Everything I send includes a handwritten note; even the preprinted ones. While it has my “message,” I want to include a handwritten thank you along with a couple of kind words and my signature.
We all have some idea of what it’s like to feel left out. While it’s nice to share in things others receive, it is nothing compared to having something of your own. I send something for them to call their own. In my eyes, there is absolutely no reason someone should have to stand in silence at the back of the group during mail call and not hear their name. There is no reason someone should not receive a card for their birthday just because they are deployed and away from home. There are many families who may simply think it’s not important but there are also some who are financially unable to send packages, which is where volunteer organizations step in.
I also get this next question a lot: “Why don’t you support people in your community?” I do. From where do you think these Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Guardsmen hail? Remember, not everyone who serves is active duty. They are our neighbors, our friends, co-workers, fellow church goers, farmers, doctors, etc. Besides, even those who are active duty stationed wherever are still part of our community; their grandmother lives down the street, their aunt works at the bank and their momma teaches dance to your friend’s kids. The L family also supports our church and community service projects.
Everyone has their “niche” and this just happens to be mine. I’ve never seen the sad look on someone’s face who doesn’t receive mail but Will has. I’ve never seen the look on someone’s face who doesn’t receive a care package but Will has. He has shared these stories with me and he stands tall beside me as we stand for those who are doing their jobs serving our Nation and standing for us.