If there's one thing I can't be accused of, it's being a wet noodle on issues that I care about. Complacency isn't in my makeup.
So back in April, when I heard stories of my friend sending care packages to her son who is currently stationed in Afghanistan, I felt that all to familiar tingle up my backbone.
I found out that our troops, fighting their pants off every dang day, all the way across the world in the most extreme and crappy of circumstances, needed basics like toothpaste, deodorant and razors. What in the heck? Seems crazy, right? It's not. It's very real and it's all very much in demand.
Around the same time I was hitting my stride mastering the world of couponing. Seeing that I could nab all sorts of deals, most of the time for pennies or free, on items that were just what the troops needed, I thought the timing couldn't have been better. Sarandipitious, if you will.
Off I went in search of a soldier of my own to send care packages to. I signed up to "adopt" a currently deployed member of the United States Armed Forces through Adopt A Us Soldier, an amazing organization that hooks people like me up with amazing soldiers like Command Sergeant Major Shelton R. Williamson, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum New York currently depolyed in the Khandahar Province of southern Afghanistan.
After signing up I received an email from Shelton that told me he has been in the Army for 23 years, is the father to three beautiful children, and is a huge UNC Tarheels fan.
He explained that he is in charge of just over 1,000 troops who are working hard to secure the Khandahar province and defeat the Taliban influence in the area, which is quite strong. They are also partnered with the Afghan National Army and are trying to assist them to gain capacity. While doing all of this they are in need of basic supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, deodorant, soap, baby wipes and lotion.
I got that email on April 8, 2011 and since then I've traded many emails with Shelton and although his world is the complete opposite of mine, I think it's the start of a beeeeautiful friendship.
Hearing that CSM Williamson passed out the contents of the boxes I would send him to other soldiers needing those necessities, I tried to step up my game. But all the couponing in all the land couldn't help me on the scale that I needed.
I spoke with Adam McCoy, editor of Shorewood Patch who is also a Veteran, and we decided there was just one option.
A Shoreline-wide donation drive was the answer. Teaming up with Stone Creek Coffee, who is the location drop off in both Whitefish Bay and Shorewood and who generously will make a latte for each person dropping off donations, was the icing on the cake. Or as Shelton says, "Spot On!"
I asked CSM Williamson if he had anything to say to the folks of the Shoreline and he says, "I have about 9 Soldiers in my organization from the state of Wisconsin and they are here doing a superb job by answering their nation's call just like all of us. Our American citizens would be very proud of the work our Soldiers are doing here!"
Please help us show Shelton and the 1,000 soldiers serving with him that we are not only proud of the work they are doing, but we understand the sacrifice they make each and every day to protect us here at home.
Consider donating an item such as toothpaste, razors, feminine products, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, baby wipes, cotton swabs, DVDs, CDs, games, playing cards, balls, hot sauce, gum, beef jerky, protein bars, snacks, sunscreen, lip balm, or anything else you can think of that you would want if you were stationed in the desert far, far from home.
Let's spread the Shoreline love across the globe and into the hands of deserving United States Army personnel like Shelton.