Ok, ok, so I'm a little behind on getting this post out. Forgive me. I've had life happen all around me for the past few months and this is the first time I've had a chance to really sit down and give this the attention it deserves.
As most of you already know, I only got involved in the Android community so that I could actually spend some time with my husband, Superuser developer, ChainsDD. Over the past year, I've gotten further and further involved with the community. Now, it's my go to place, my family, my support system. I know that no matter what is going on in my life, I can always turn to the community for support, or even an ass chewing if I need it. What I didn't expect though, was the level of support that happened this past Christmas.
It all started November 10, 2011. We had just gotten back from a visit to the States to see my husband's ailing grandfather. Being a key spouse for the squadron, I was in a meeting getting the run down of the holiday schedule. I was extremely upset over the lack of support for our single airmen living in the dorms. Everything happening for the holidays was catered to families. That bothered me. We have our families here with us. Those of us that are married are not alone over here. These airmen are, and I felt that more needed to be done for them.
I decided to provide a stocking for each airman in the dorms. The other spouses were saying it couldn't be done. Too much red tape, no time to do any fundraising, etc etc etc. That pissed me off and of course, motivated me to prove them all wrong. So without thinking, I called the commander and told him that I needed a list of names of the airmen in the dorms because I was going to provide all of them a stocking for Christmas.
And then it dawned on me what I had just committed myself too. YIKES!
So I put out a plea in the Android community, begging for help. Originally, I was just asking for stocking stuffers. Or stockings. Hell, it was 6 weeks before Christmas and I had nothing but an idea and a lot of good intentions.
The community stepped in and asked for a paypal link to make donations.
Here's where I want to start crying....
Within a matter of days, we had enough in donations to provide the stockings. Decent stockings. But that wasn't good enough for you guys. You all found out that there would be at least 50 airmen with nothing for Christmas, and you stepped up to the plate and helped make Christmas amazing.
The cards started flying in. I received more than 250 personalized cards for the airmen for Christmas. Not one of them had a generic "Merry Christmas" written on it. All of them had a message written out, thanking the airmen for what they do, for the sacrifices they are making, telling them that people do care about them.
The donations were so overwhelming, with Android members antagonizing each other, pushing each other to donate more, to do more. One member went so far as to ask his grocer's butcher and cashier for donations. (He received them too)
Within 3 weeks, you guys not only provided stockings for these airmen, but you provided hand written cards. (Each airmen received at least 5 cards personalized to them). The airmen also received gifts valued at approximately $150 each. We bought Craftsman tool sets, ipod Nanos, digital cameras, electric guitars, PS3 games, XBox 360 games, remotes for those game consoles, movie sets (Such as Band of Brothers), etc.
These gifts were delivered by our squadron's first shirt "Santa" style. They were delivered to the dorm rooms while the airmen were at work.
For weeks, we had airmen coming up and thanking us for all that was done. People asking about this "Android" community that had provided so many thoughtful gifts, cards, etc. Each stocking had the airman's first and last name written on it in glitter glue. (Will never do that again! OMG the hand cramps). =D
But the most surprising moment, was when we found out about a young airmen who honestly didn't think that anyone cared about him. An airmen who had gotten into some trouble and was having a hard time pulling himself out of it.
This young airmen received one of the stockings, the cards and a gift. I didn't know this airmen before this, so shopping for him was a little nerve wracking. He ended up with the Band of Brother's set.
This same airman went to the supervisors the day after he received his gifts and told them something that will affect me for the rest of my life. He told them that he had been planning to commit suicide over Christmas. He told them that he didn't think anyone cared about him and that he thought it was the best way out for him. Then he told them that because of the stocking, the gift and the cards, he no longer wanted to kill himself. That an act so random proved to be the most kindness he had seen in years. The movies were actually something that he had wanted (Phew, talk about luck). He had never had a stocking in his entire life. He had never received a Christmas card before. This young airman ended up spending the Christmas holidays at our home, surrounded by strangers who cared more than most people in his life ever had.
Something that started out as me getting pissed off, ended up saving a life.
I couldn't have done that without you guys. Without the support, then time, the donations, the dedication to your community and to your airmen.
YOU saved a life this past Christmas by being there for total strangers. By being a community and by reaching out to someone that you didn't know.
So thank you. Thank you for being a part of something that means so much to me. For being there for our airmen who are alone overseas.
Our project is still being talked about. The airmen still refer back to that day when they are having a hard time, or when they start to get down on themselves.
Keep making a difference. Keep helping strangers.
I'll be starting things a lot earlier this year for the stockings program. I have to continue it. Knowing the difference it can make, there's no way I can drop it now. I'll be looking to you guys for help with it.
Just an FYI: In 3 weeks, we raised $7,000 for the airman. Every single dime of that was spent to provide Christmas for them and for 2 families that were stuck in TLF during Christmas. (For those that don't know, TLF is the base hotel). So thank you guys again and again and again.