Ah! It’s American Thanksgiving week! And that means confirming plans, checking lists and rushing about to be with friends and family (who we may or may not want to see). You’re possibly dreading being “felt up” by TSA employees at the airport, or maybe ticked off because you can’t find the smooth cranberry sauce that your great aunt can eat, or you’re practicing tongue biting because you and your sister-in-law will go at it over her weird child-rearing philosophies. There are a myriad possibilities — that’s what the holidays are all about.
I’d like to suggest that we all take a deep breath and a quiet moment, and give thanks that we have all these things to complain about. Let’s remember that there are tens of thousands of military personnel stationed away from family and friends — some in circumstances we don’t even want to imagine — who would likely be quite happy to argue over turkey dinner at home and wouldn’t even miss the cranberry sauce.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do, at least in time for the holidays, to bring the troops home to their loved ones, but we can send a bit of home to them as a small thanks for all their sacrifices. Nils and I’ve done so through an organization called Any Soldier.
Giving a Token of Thanks is Easy
As of this writing, at the Any Soldier website, you’ll see (at the left panel) 1,700+ names of men and women representing their companies, teams or platoons. By clicking through the list and reading through the notes of thanks and updates, you’ll get a taste of the conditions they’re living under, and the goodwill and comraderie that’s essential to their lives. You’ll also see requests for needed items. Some ask for basics like toilet paper, shampoo and razors, others ask for “… basically anything that reminds us of home.” The ones that gave rise to a lump in my throat were requests for letters or for artwork by children — my interpretation: “any contact and cheer from home, even if from strangers.” One request went on to say, “Most of our soldiers (are) young and never deployed before or even been away from their families, and most of them are not recieving stuff from home so i would like a little help to bring some light to the long days …”
So, choosing who to send a gift and note to was no simple task. We don’t personally know anyone stationed away from home, so we opted to have our contribution sent to whomever the organization deemed most needy. By way of a link from Any Soldier to Treat Any Soldier, Nils and I arranged for a “Care package” of Entenmenn’s, Keebler, Oreos, Little Debbie and Famous Amos cookies — brands that anyone who’s been a kid in the U.S. knows and has enjoyed, taste sensations that might transport — even if for just a moment — some of the young men and women back to their family kitchen.
History and Today
Any Soldier is a perfect example of a small Impact effort that grew into something larger. Back in 2003, the Horn family, from La Plata, Maryland, USA, started sending packages to their son, serving in Iraq. From there, they devised a plan on getting packages of needed supplies to other troops. That plan evolved into AnySoldier.com.
According to their website, they have served over 1.7 million troops stationed in 22 locations. Currently, Any Soldier serves over 70,000 service members mostly from the U.S., but also from other countries including England, Italy, Germany, and Japan.
We specifically chose to support our troops through Any Soldier because it is a fully volunteer organization. There are, however, many other 501(c)(3) programs doing work for our troops. Soldiers Angels, Websites for Heroes, and Operation Shoebox are some examples.
“EVERYONE who sends packages and letters and notes, is OUR hero here!”
PO2 M. Johnson, Iraq
Happy Thanksgiving to our family, friends and followers around the world!