by Lana Myers

I’d like to share how strangers can impact positively the lives of our troops deployed overseas.

Pennies:

Yesterday, W.H.E.A.T. received an unsolicited check in the mail for $57.39 from the Rosalia, Washington’s FFA Chapter/Rosalia School District. The enclosed letter read, in part:

“During National FFA Week, the Rosalia FFA Chapter planned a few activities, and the community service project was called Colors for Cause. The event kicked off with every student and staff member selecting a colored ribbon to wear that represented the cause they were most passionate about. Yellow – Support Our Troops * * *.” Throughout the week we completed a penny drive where everyone selected which can to donate their coins to. We raised over 30,000 pennies worth of donations in total! Please see the enclosed check for the amount raised for your cause.

We appreciate what you do to support our troops and wish your organization well.”

Rosalia FFA Chapter, your incredibly generous donation of $57.39 allows W.H.E.A.T. to mail 3 customized care packages to our military soldiers deployed overseas! The Rosalia School District’s staff and students have proven that “just pennies” can make a difference in the lives of our troops.

An Angel in Walmart:

As the global world crisis attributed to COVID-19 began to hit America, I stood in the potato chip aisle of Walmart, staring at a list of items that W.H.E.A.T. was purchasing to fulfill a 26-member Unit’s recent request of “wish” items. A shopper, Linda Hill of Palouse, WA, (a complete stranger to me) commented on the amount of sanitation items in my cart, assuming that I was stocking up on items for personal use. I shared the soldier’s list and letter with Linda. Before long, we were both crying in the chips aisle (a first for both of us, I think) at how our soldiers deployed overseas endure far more than we can imagine. And, the simple pleasures in life that we take for granted, like potato chips, can make such a difference for those who put their lives on the line for all Americans, 24/7, 365 days/year.

I shared W.H.E.A.T.’s philosophy that whatever a soldier is craving (or 26 soldiers in this particular instance), we would procure those items and mail them within 24-hours of receipt of each request. What happened next made me cry even harder. Linda quietly reached into her purse and handed me a $100.00 bill. She tried to walk away without any recognition, but I asked for her name and contact information. So, Linda, if you’re reading this, I’ll say it again, “You truly are an angel.”

Dogs vs. Cats:

Jenny Meyer, owner of Endicott Food Center in Endicott, WA, is a staunch supporter of W.H.E.A.T. and its mission. Besides donating thousands of dollars of food and personal hygiene items to W.H.E.A.T., Jenny placed a donation box in her establishment for community members to donate goods/cash. Last week, I drove to her store and discovered a treasure worth more than gold, handwritten cards addressed to soldiers that 4th grade students at Jennings Elementary School in Colfax, WA, had addressed to “Dear Soldier.” I tried to discover who organized this monumental task, to no avail.

I wish that I could provide a quote from every heartfelt, beautiful card, but I can’t. So, here’s one particular card:

“Dear Soldier,

* * * One thing I have to talk about is…I’m a huge dog person. If you’re a cat person, well I don’t know what to tell you. First things first, I absolutely LOVE German Shepherds. That’s basically the whole right side of my brain. Well, I love a lot of dog breeds, I can tell you that. * * *”

After we finished laughing at the sheer magnificence of the student’s card with hand-drawn pictures of a German Shepherd, Roger and I sent this card to Soldier MWD Zak (a 90-pound German Shepherd) and his human handler who are stationed in Saudia Arabia until at least August 2020.

“We can do this!”

How did we get the wonderful notecards from the 4th grade students at Jennings Elementary? It took some investigation, but I figured it out via Facebook. After seeing W.H.E.A.T.’s video on Facebook, posted on April 26, 2020, Hallie George “shared” the video with her Facebook friends. I don’t know Hallie, but discovered that she lives 30 minutes from me and we’re both from the same hometown of Selah, WA. I reached out to Hallie and asked if she knew who placed the 4th grade students’ handwritten notecards in the donation box at Endicott Food Center. She replied:

“That would actually be me. I was the one working when you came in and saw the card a customer’s little girl put in [the donation box]. I saw how much it meant to you and it gave me an idea, so I asked some of our surrounding schools if they could take a little time out of their curriculums to have the students write letters or make cards to put in the box.”

I then looked at Hallie’s Facebook page and noticed that she had asked her Facebook friends to “have your kids write a letter or make a card to send” in the W.H.E.A.T. care packages. She explained that “it will only cost you a little paper, writing utensils * * *.” Tia Anderson Langston immediately posted, “We can do this!” Yes, Tia, we can do this with the help and support of fellow Americans who give their most precious gift of all, time.

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