We slowed down in the last few months as most of the troops on our list came home. I happily remove names of those that are safe in their family's arms, and start sniffing out names and addresses of guys and gals that have replaced them, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, we are laundering beanies. Our initial call for beanie babies left me so inundated with donations that a kind neighbor of the country casa let us store thousands of them in his farm shed until we got caught up on those in my garage.
We hauled them back out a month ago, and though they're in good shape, they're musty and dusty, and we're laundering all of them before we ship.
So, little by little, we are gearing up for our 3rd year of operations at Toys for Troops. There is no shortage of things to do, or soldiers to support. Last week I received a letter from a central Illinois soldier, "Major M.," who is currently serving in Iraq. It read, in part,
We conduct operations in nearby towns and small villages about every 2 to 4 days and in the short time I have been here, I have noticed a common trend amongst the children[...] They very rarely have any kind of toys or stuffed animals. [...] As a father of two small children under 5 and one more on the way in August, it saddens me that most of these children don't have any toys or stuffed animals...I am asking for any help you could give to help these children here.I also received another letter this week from a military mom, asking me to add the son of a family friend to our mailing list. He is
"stationed in Afghanistan with about 15 other guys, they're training Afghani soldiers, and eating Afghan fod...which is apparently why he asked his dad for "anything in a can, pop tarts, food!"In addition, we shipped 4 boxes of beanies to soldiers aboard the USS Halyburton, for them to toss to children on the pier at their future homecoming (date of which can not be revealed).
We keep busy, but that isn't all I wanted to share with you.
What is most important about this update, and what continues to amaze me is this: I received the names of 27 soldiers this week that wanted beanies or could use a care package or a letter from home. I put out a shout out with that fact on Facebook, and enough people stepped forward that there was a care package heading out to each of those names...in 2 hours' time. Cookies and letters were mailed that same day!
I have always told the soldiers on our mailing list that people here want to do something to help out, and that all we need is a little direction: A name, an address will usually do it. I will be proud to be able to send them yet another letter telling them about the great 2-hour accomplishment, and that "we mean it, now! Give us your name and tell us what you need!"
There are soldiers out there busting their asses in desert heat, missing their families, and checking empty mailboxes.
We can't have that.
I have names. I have addresses. I have suggestions.
Hit me up. I'll help you help.