08 October 2007

Guess what's in these boxes?

About 345lbs of soldier "loot", including:

300 razors
165 toothbrushes
134 full size tubes of toothpaste & 50 travel size
110 white undershirts
85 phone cards
80 lip balm
59 nail clippers (many double packs)
36 pairs of flip flops
31 full size bottles of shampoo & lots of travel size
25 packs womens panties
28 sports bras
22 deoderant
19 packs mens boxer briefs
13 foot powder
19 color t-shirts
17 body lotion
8 shower gel
8 stuffed animals
7 towels
Get Well cards
misc. sweat, sleep, and wind pants and jackets

All of this started during a conversation about Blankets of Hope with Leslie of Soldiers' Angels. We were corresponding about the quilts she was working on for Landstuhl when she asked what other kinds of comfort items the patients here could use.

She mentioned the possibility of doing a supply drive and thought she'd bring it up at the next spouse coffee. Leslie's husband is based at RAF Mildenhall in the UK, and she works at RAF Lakenheath.

"After thinking it over I decided to go Bigger", Leslie says, adding "Everyone who knows me said, "You go bigger? No surprise there!""

Together with her friend Karen "who helped whenever and wherever I needed it", Leslie started working on publicity like flyers and announcements at spouse meetings and at their chapel, waded through red tape at the post office, booked tables at both bases, and prepared "shopping lists".

As the weekend of the drive drew near several people who planned to be out of town during the event began bringing stuff to Leslie at work. Seeing the bags coming in motivated her co-workers to donate items and voluteer to man the tables.

After the second day Leslie sent me this update:

"Another productive day. We had some of our young Captains helping out who just wouldn't take "no" for an answer. I think every person who walked into the Exchange today got a shopping list! It was amusing to say the least. My favorite quote, "Now come on, man, you know if you got hurt you'd want some clean underwear to put on. Help us out here." I had to turn away to keep from laughing!"

She adds it was a long and exhausting weekend but very exciting to have gotten such a great response.

"We were really overwhelmed at the generosity of people. As I unpacked the bags I noticed that some people spent $50 - $60 just on stuff for the drive. People really want to help our troops. They just need to know how."

When the boxes arrived here in Germany we were also overwhelmed. Many, many heartfelt thanks to all the fine folks at Mildenhall and Lakenheath, and in particular to Leslie for being the driving force behind this incredible fundraiser.

Oh, and a last word about the blankets... recently Leslie's husband and crew passed through Ramstein, Germany with a medevac flight.

On the flight he saw a nurse take a handmade blanket out of a backpack to cover a patient. He smiled and told his buddies, "Hey, my wife could have made that quilt."

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