Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Tricks, Just Treats

I am excited about an upcoming post about my latest miniature care packages for the cutest little pumpkins! 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Being pregnant is not easy. Or at least that's what I would imagine, not having ever been pregnant myself. There's doctor visits (and endless bills), the buying of diapers and nursery furniture. There's the smiling at every gift given and the endless talks revolving around naming the little one. I'm sure it's all exciting, but like most relationships, you have the honeymoon stage and then reality hits. And the sudden whirlwind excitement becomes panic and everyone's left wondering "what now?" Normally you go through that together, husband and wife, hand in hand. Unfortunately, for expecting mothers of deployed soldiers, the panic comes sooner and the tears are fought back long before they begin packing. You smile because you have to. You smile because you know their life and yours depend on knowing you'll be okay. You can do this.

For one mother, this is nothing new. As she does her best to take care of her fast growing little girl, the house, and everyday chores, she's also left caring for the little baby she's yet to meet. And she's doing this alone- sort of. Although her husband is off serving our country and he's not able to help with the day-to-day stuff, she's surrounded by friends and family who offer the support she needs. Unfortunately, although there are many who have offered and are willing to help, she hardly ever asks for it. She takes pride in knowing that she can fix things around the house, complete the chores, pay bills, and still have time to play dress up with her daughter; all with a smile on her face. And her free time? She calls to make sure other wives are doing okay, offers her advice, and lends an ear. She sends e-mails, cards, letters. She's a modern day Wonder Woman; an inspiration.

Not long after the website was established, I received an e-mail from a friend of this mother. She wrote asking if I'd be interested in helping spread a little more sunshine and love to this expecting mother. Today I am proud to announce the completion of the Pretty in Pink basket for this mother, her little girl, and her baby girl to be. It will be sent to a place I've never been with hope that although she may somewhere inside feel alone, know that she's not. She is surrounded by everyday Americans who appreciate all that she does for our country. I hope they enjoy opening everything as much as I enjoyed shopping for them. It was an honor.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little Things

I would like to take this time to thank the many people who have made monetary donations to Operation Tank You.  It is your generous donations that make this project possible.   

There is something to be said about the little things in life; fresh cut grass, a hot dog at a baseball game, licking icing off the spoon. When I think back over the course of the past year, I realize that the little things aren't so little after all.  In fact, many of those small things we take for granted are moments we later wish we could have back.  And maybe it isn't so much the things, but the feeling those things bring us.  For example, inside my first care package are lots of little things.  But I know those little things, every little thing, was purchased with lots of heart.  People who will never meet the recipient, have given a little to someone who has given so much.  It's that moment we should all live for;  the one where we stop caring about things and start caring for people. "The little things. The little moments.  They aren't little." - Jon Kabat-Zinn. 

It All Starts Here

Operation Tank You: 10x10
The Story Behind the Project

 I have always been proud to be American. I cry during the National Anthem, I pause when I see the flag flying high, and nod at every Veteran I pass. I am not the only proud American. You see other young men and women, returning from boot camp, serving overseas or training, and they too, are full of pride. You see them at the airport, proudly wearing their service sweatshirts and t-shirts; they walk on air.

In the summer of 2009, I began to notice an increase in young men and women who serve as I traveled between Richmond and San Diego. During a layover in Dallas, a young man caught my eye as he walked into the airport. He was proudly wearing his Navy sweatshirt and seemed to be looking around to see if anyone else had noticed his new gear. Without hesitation, I reached into my book bag and wrote a small note of thanks. I approached the young man, who looked more like a kid, handed him the card, and thanked him for his service. Not knowing what to do, he shook my hand, thanked me and walked away. I sat back down at my chair and continued to read from my book. Within minutes, the young man returned with his cell phone in hand. As he stood before me, he continued his conversation before pausing to hand me the phone. On the other end was a mother who wanted to thank me for my note. She said he had called to tell her, “I made someone proud.”

 After that day, I began carrying letters in my purse. I knew I wanted to recognize every man and woman who proudly serves our country and so Operation Tank You was born. In the past year I have seen grown men fight back tears as well as received numerous hugs from women. The tough guys ready to take on the world? I’ve seen them tuck it in their chest pocket. At the end of the 2009 school year, the children at Washington Henry Elementary School also supported my effort by making cards. Many of the cards have found their way to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, while others have been given to local men and women.

 Last May, my fiancĂ© deployed. Having lived on opposite coasts for nearly a year, the deployment didn’t rock me as it had others. It wasn’t until a month later that I began feeling the impact as all communication had been cancelled and no mail had been delivered. My classroom parents, recognizing the struggle, carefully prepared a care package for me. It had everything I needed to help get me through the toughest days. I laughed out loud while watching the movies, devoured the chocolate when the tears came, and treated myself to an at-home spa day. I was touched and inspired. Shortly after, I began brainstorming and Operation Tank You: The 10x10 project was created.

Operation Tank You: 10x10 is an extension of the cards that have already touched nearly 400 soldiers. These care packages, sponsored by ten people giving ten dollars, are created for those left behind during deployments. It is a simple reminder, that as proud Americans, we have not forgotten you, the people who are the strength behind the scenes.