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Thursday, December 20th 2007

10:01 (3645 days, 3h, 6min ago)

How Did you first hear about Give2TheTroops?

  • Name: Andi Grant
  • Hometown: G2TT President and Founder
  • Anything you want to add: THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

 

At every packing party at our Connecticut Branch, we go around the room and introduce ourselves.  One of the things we mention is how we first became involved. 

How did we hear about G2TT?

Why did we get involved?

What motivated us to help and continue to help?

Why have many of us stayed on - some of us working up to 50 hours/week as UNPAID volunteers since 2002!

I'm posting this blog, asking each of you to write back and let everyone now how you became involved and what the experience means to YOU as a volunteer or donor.

I WILL GO FIRST ...

Back in 2002, my husband (a Sergeant in the Marine Corps) received his deployment orders for OIF.  I was a nervous wreck.  Our son was only 10 years old.  My husband is a U.S.  Marine Reservist, so we didn't live on a base or even close to where he drills.  We didn't know ANYONE who was going through what we were and it was frightening.

I wanted to send care packages to my husband and his unit, but he wanted me to find the guys on the front lines who needed the packages more than he did.

Our family had some friends who were already deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  One girlfriend of mine was on a NAVY SHIP that was transporting thousands of Marines and Soldiers to Iraq.  She became my first Point of Contact and put me in touch with Navy Chaplains on other ships and pretty soon, I had more than 15,000 troops to send packages to!


(above, my dear friend Sandy Edgley and many shipmates: Sailors and Marines who lined up to get items from our care package.)




I decided to get our community involved - my son's elementary school, community choir, neighbors, sports team, church friends, relatives - anyone who would listen to this "crazy, frantic wife who missed her husband" who had a vision to let every deployed troop in harm's way know America truly loves him or her.

People used to pack boxes with my son and me several times a week after work in my tiny 800 SQF home's basement.


(Volunteers in my tiny basement.)

Word spread quickly about what we were doing and pretty soon people from around the nation were calling me to find out how they could help my efforts ...


(Volunteers at the post office.)

We packed boxes and spent hours at our local post office mailing hundreds of boxes.  People on line behind us were NOT happy!

But we grew ....

and grew ....

and grew ...

and grew ...

and grew!

I gave weekly speeches and presentations to promote my "program".  And after a few months, I saw I had a great support network comprised of loving, dedicated, patriotic citizens from around the globe.

We sent THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of boxes from my little home to our deployed troops in combat.  Thank you letters from those troops poured in! And I received other letters from new troops requesting assistance.  So we kept sending boxes.

WHY do I stay on?

For starters, our troops deserve our utmost support for the selfless sacrifices they make for us.  But it's more than that for me ... 

Perhaps it's the letters - the troops very own words of gratitude ...

or maybe it's the support of our generous donors and volunteers ...


or the fact that my family and I received so much support and my husband came back okay, so we need to "pay it forward" ...


(with US Congressman, Chris Shays)

But I think it's a combination of all of the above and I will continue my efforts to support our deployed and wounded troops until there is no longer a need.

SO ... how and why did you get involved?

 

 

16 Comments.

Posted by Angie K.:

I found Give2TheTroops on www.verybestbaking.com. During introductions at our packing parties, I feel kind of silly as to how I found the organization, but then I've realized that it's kind of cool because everything happens for a reason.

Who would of thought, while browsing for a cookie recipe for another fundraiser I was working on, that all my clicking on link after link brought me to www.Give2TheTroops.org? The best part was when I noticed that it's in Rocky Hill, CT. Nothing ever happens around CT. We're a little boring state but G2TT is the best thing in this state! I love it and I love everyone I've met at G2TT.

Thank you verybestbaking.com for leading me to G2TT. Thank you Andi, for founding a great organization. Thank you G2TT Volunteers for being so great. More importantly, thank you to our troops for all they do!

Lots of love,
Angie
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 11:05 (3645 days, 2h, 2min ago)

Posted by Sara Nylander:

I found this site on Google actually. I was looking for an organization that was around here (south Texas), and I stumbled upon G2TTs page.
My brother was in the Coast Guard... he got out a few months prior to Sept 11, 2001.
I have many many friends that have went into the military. My best friend's hubby is in the Army. A lot of the guys I grew up with in my small little town are now out among other troops serving their country. The men they are now are complete opposites of the boys they were.
I have yet to attend a packing party as I am down near Corpus Christi... and the Texas branch is up in the DFW area, but that is going to change real soon.
I have always respected and admired our troops, and this organization just helps me to show them.
Why do I keep helping? Let's see if I can get thru this without bawling.
To sit and really truly think about how alone and scared those men and women must be... behind all their brave fronts... way in the back of their head its there. It puts a smile in my heart knowing that the simple "I'll pray for you" written on a children's card, or a handful of candy or heck even a bar of soap... puts a smile on that troops face... or at least helps them feel a little less alone. That is why I continue to help with G2TT.
The few talks that I've had with Andi... and the many rambling emails I've had with Rick (the TX branch director)... they both truly care... and that's why I've stuck it out with G2TT.
So, thank you Andi for starting this. Thank you Rick for being you (and agreeing to be my chauffer). Thank you G2TT volunteers for making it possible for G2TT to keep going. And most of all... THANK YOU TO OUR TROOPS!!!
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 13:19 (3644 days, 23h, 49min ago)

Posted by Joe Garrett:

how did I find G2TT? I didn't - it found me. I had been sending boxes to the NC chapter which I found by some means and then I found out that G2TT had opened the Rocky Hill site for packing and I figured I could save a buck in mailing costs so I got my gardener to help me pack the truck and off we set. Neither of us even knew where Rocky Hill was, but that never stopped me cuz everybody loves to tell me where to go. So I figured finding the site would be a piece of cake, especially since I had consulted my Delorme mapping program and it gave me very specific directions on the roads to take to Rocky Hill. Off we set and boy weere we supprised when we ended up at a ferry crossing that was not running since it stops for the winter on Nov 30th and this was Dec or so. Plus we had left the maps laying on the kitchen ttable cuz we is MEN and men don't need no stinkin maps !!!! Well after a couple of hours wandering around various towns, most of which were not Rocky Hill and passing a restaurant named On The Border a few times I told my gardener(who I was paying to go with me to carry the boxes we were trying to get to the rock) that passing this restaurant was a sign from a higher power that we were meant to eat there IF we ever found the drop off place(G2TT headquarters). Finally in a fit of desperation we ddecided (actually I decided since I was driving and paying) that we wouuld go up and down all the streets in Rocky Hill and if this mystical place even existed we would be sure to find it. As we were traversing all the streets we happened on an address that I knew could tell us where to go(like my wife) and we stopped in and asked for directions and sure enough they wer very familair with G2TT and gave us very explicit directions and we found it immediately thereafter. The place we stopped in was called the Rocky Hill Post office. And I have been locating it with ease ever since.
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 13:45 (3644 days, 23h, 22min ago)

Posted by Lindsey Hallerberg:

My Mom sent me an e-mail last spring that talked about the "Let's Say Thanks" program that Xerox sponsors. I went to the website and sent a card. I thought it was so neat and inspiring. After I sent my card I was browsing around the site and came across the link to Give 2 the Troops.

I have always been a very patriotic person, I guess I just didn't pay attention enough to know that there were wonderful organizations like G2TT out there. Reading all the stories and thank you notes from the Troops inspired me to get involved... and I'm so glad that I did.

I've met many great people (although I've only seen one in person!), and have been truly inspired by the amount that our communities are willing to get involved when given the chance. I absolutely love this organization, and will give as much as I can for as long as I can. Our amazing men and women in uniform deserve at least that.

Andi: Thank you so much for taking the steps that you did. I don't think you'll ever realize how many people you've affected because of it; not just the troops, but the poeple (like us) you've allowed to help you in your mission. God Bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas!
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 13:47 (3644 days, 23h, 20min ago)

Posted by Brenda Falusi:

I found G2TT while surfing the web late one Friday night. I saw that there was a packing party the next morning and e-mailed right away to see if I could join.

My husband is currently deployed for support of Operation Enduring Freedom for 6 months. I was feeling blessed and guilty that while he would be gone for the holidays, he had a short and relatively "safe" deployment while there were so many men and women who would be missing out on so much more.

I decided Christmas shopping could wait, that these packages would bring so much more joy to so many more people and that I needed to be a part of it.

I received a reply to my e-mail in the wee hours of the morning. Now why would Andi be up so late when she has such a big day packing? Just goes to show what a dedicated, and truly giving person she is.

And wouldn't you know, there were 2 service members on the list who were deployed with my husband. Small world indeed.
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 16:44 (3644 days, 20h, 24min ago)

Posted by Carol Kana:

Before I talk about finding G2TT, I must comment on Joe's answer. Only Joe would talk about getting lost in Rocky Hill.He is an amazing person and a wonderful volunteer.
I heard about G2TT on a radio station advertising an upcoming collection at a grocery store. When I went to the website to check the list of items, I realized I had alot of these things in my attic. So when I went to drop off the items, I had a trunk load.
I had been retired for a short time and my father was a vet of WWII. So it seemed only natural to want to help. At the time, Andi was having packing parties in her basement. Since I am disabled, I was unable to help there, but I did organize several collections.
Once G2TT found a location in Rocky Hill, Andi immediately contacted me and said they were handicap accessible. So now I am addicted, and I have gotten several of my friends involved. There is no other place where I feel so much warmth and caring when I walk in the door. It is like having another family. I feel blessed to have these new friends and to help the troops. The letters of thanks say it all. Whenever I talk to someone about G2TT, I always say go check out the thank you letters. When you read them you just want to help.
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 20:23 (3644 days, 16h, 45min ago)

Posted by Sheila Chunis:

I started packing with Andi when I learned my own son was going to be deployed to Afghanistan. It was at G2TT that I learned there was never enough that can be done for our soldiers. I am now a trained military counselor seeing veterans and families. I knit afghans to send to military hospitals for our wounded soldiers to know that people care in their darkest hours. I pray for Andi and her family for being beacons in a world that has lost their way. Her son is a tribute to Brian and Andi's dedication since most teen guy's would not spend so much of their time playing assistant CEO of a volunteer organization.
:):):)
Thursday, December 20th 2007 @ 22:44 (3644 days, 14h, 23min ago)

Posted by Susan Perrone:

I started volunteering, at G2TT, in 2006. My sister-in-law, Phyllis, told me about the organization. My nephew, Michael, was deployed to Iraq, at the time.

I continue to volunteer, because our troops deserve our dedication. My heart goes out to each and every one of them, and their families.

Every box, we pack, is 65 POUNDS of LOVE, sealed with well wishes, and a whole lot of prayers.

Thank you Andi, for creating G2TT.
Saturday, December 22nd 2007 @ 11:02 (3643 days, 2h, 6min ago)

Posted by Deane Kimerer:

I discovered G2TT in Spring 2006 after seeing an email about sending cards through Xerox & G2TT. After emailing Pete and Judy, I started asking managers of stores if they'd consider donating items. Instead, they wanted to give gift cards. This has been the best so we can shop for what the troops truly want. The first donation that I received for G2TT was for a $25 gift card. I was naiive and thought, "They said yes; whoo-hoo!" Then, our church did a drive for G2TT in Fall 2006 and Pete/Carol and Judy drove hours up to collect the goodies. From that meeting, I could tell that this organization had extraordinary people working for it who put others before themselves. One of my most fun endeavors for G2TT was a recent drive at our local elementary school combined with a Veterans Day assembly. Families were so generous with their donations! And, the principal of our school was so instrumental in his support. Thanks to Judy, we had very special guest at our school for the Veterans' assembly. Then, most recently, we held an EBay auction of sports memorabilia from Seattle sports teams. Receiving the autographed items for G2TT was so much fun! From time to time, I stop and read the "Thank You" letters from the troops. And, when I read these letters, I feel a flood of emotions from awe at their bravery to smiles and tears. The letters constantly remind me why we all volunteer as we do; for the troops to feel a bit of home. I am excited for a fun 2008 where we can fulfill more dreams for our great USA deployed troops!
Sunday, December 23rd 2007 @ 1:01 (3642 days, 12h, 7min ago)

Posted by Laura Mousch:

How did we get there? Good question. I beleive I linked to G2TT somehow from The Patriot Guard Site. I'm not sure, but I know why we where brought here. We had relatives that served in WWII. My husband served during Vietnam, our son in Desert Storm. We know the feeling of not knowing. How it is to be far from the people you love.

There is something we can do, to help
comfort our troops. Things from home. Simple things. Tuna, candy, lip balm and most of all a note saying we appreciate what they are doing for us and our Counrty.

I can not express in words how much emotion wells up in me when I think of our soldiers and their families. How great my gratitude is for all they sacrifice. They protect our freedom here and bring freedom around the world, just as the generations that have gone before.

We can give back and we do. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. We will keep giving as long as we are needed. God's blessings to all.

LPM
Sunday, December 23rd 2007 @ 16:01 (3641 days, 21h, 7min ago)

Posted by carol andrew:

I BECAME A VOLUNTEER JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO FOR GIVE2THETROOPS, IT IS SUCH A FANTASTIC GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HELP OUT OUR TROOPS. IN 2006 MY SON WAS DEPLOYED TO IRAQ AND I WISH THAT I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THIS GROUP WAS NEAR BY. IT TAKES SUCH A PERSONAL LEVEL ON EACH PERSON THAT IS DEPLOYED, AND IS SO OVERWHELMING. WHEN MY SON DEPLOYED I WANTED TO GET A COLLECTION GOING AT WORK TO SEND STUFF OVER, AND AFTER SERCHING FOR LISTS I FOUND THE ONE FROM GIVE2THETROOOPS. I PRINTED IT OUT AND DID MY COLLECTION AND SENT THE GOODS OVER TO MY SON AND HIS UNIT. I NEVER CHECKED OUT THE WEBSITE ANYFURTHER. I COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT IT WAS ONLY 15 MINUTES AWAY FROM MY HOUSE. THATS WHEN I DECIED TO START VOLUNTEERING. MY SON WILL BE OUT OF THE ARMY AS OF 1-11-08, BUT I STILL FEEL THE NEED TO HELP OUT AND GIVE MY TIME. IT IS SUCH A GOOD FEELING, TO BE HELPING AND SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS.. THANK YOU ANDI, AND EVERYONE ELSE FOR THIS WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION...........
CAROL ANDREW
Wednesday, December 26th 2007 @ 7:16 (3639 days, 5h, 52min ago)

Posted by Donna Brbovic:

In 2006 my son (USMCR) was deployed with a combat unit to Falluhja, Iraq. His 1stSgt wrote web blogs to help families at home that were feeling so anxious and helpless. He educated us on "Americantology" and told us to go see Andi at Give2theTroops to help in an amazing organizaton. I have been so thankful for his guidance. It has given me an outlet to help let all the deployed men and women we can reach know that they are missed, loved and especially supported by us at home. It helped during a very difficult deployment for our family and I will forever be grateful to all our troops for what they do. I feel it to be a small way in which I can express my gratitute to our brave troops. I thank Andi for not only being there for the troops, but for being there for us and giving us such a wonderful way to show our support (not to mention work off a little nervous energy!!) Thank you ANDI for founding such a wonderful organization. Love, Donna
Thursday, December 27th 2007 @ 9:58 (3638 days, 3h, 9min ago)

Posted by Beth Bellucci:

I discovered G2TT in 2004 while reading an article about them in our local newspaper in Fairfield, CT. I had been looking for a legitimate combat troop support group where I could be confident that my donations would be truly utilized to support our incredibly brave troops stationed overseas. I immediately called Andi(who lived across town)& asked if I could drop off a check. Andi's response was(of course)we're having a packiing party in my basement tomorrow night & we'd love to have you come over and help us pack boxes! This was the beginning of my wonderful adventure with G2TT! These past 3+ years have been the most rewarding of my life - to truly be able to make a difference in the lives of our troops has been a distinct privilege. I've met the most wonderful volunteers, many being the families of our combat troops. When I started on this adventure I did not know any military troops or their families, and I now have a very large extended family of the most loving and selfless individuals I'll ever meet. They are all truly my heroes! Our awesome military deserves to be honored and appreciated every day of their lives, and even more so when faced with dangerous combat missions. Thank you Andi, Brian and Ryan for your incredible sacrifices in support of our great country, and for the opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation to our great military personnel. Love, Beth
Monday, January 28th 2008 @ 13:06 (3606 days, 0h, 1min ago)

Posted by Sara Kessler:

I first heard about Give 2 The Troops through my mother, as someone in her office told her about it. I looked it up and was AMAZED by what I was reading! I am an Army wife who is from CT but currently lives in upstate NY (hubby is stationed at Ft. Drum). I wish that I could come down and volunteer more often, but it's hard to get down to CT often. I can't say enough about this great group!!! Andi was great during my husbands last deployment...she sent him tons of stuff and helped me deal with him being gone. And everytime I was able to come down to volunteer, everyone was so nice and supportive. It's amazing to receive that kind of support from people you just met! Well, we just discovered that he will be deploying again this fall...this time to Iraq. And I will be coming in to volunteer, as often as I can, and trying to support others as you have all supported me. I just want to say thank you to everyone involved with G2TT! ~sara
Thursday, February 21st 2008 @ 13:17 (3581 days, 23h, 51min ago)

Posted by Kathy Fuller:

As an "empty nester" (in Raleigh)I found myself spending more and more weekdays in our little get-away community in Chocowinity NC (about 25 miles east of G2TT Branch in Greenville). I decided to look around and do some volunteering in Eastern NC. It was then that I met Catherine, a spokeswoman for "United Through Reading" in a bookstore in Raleigh. The bookstore was sponsoring the program by selling children's books at a discount that are then donated to this program to help active duty personnel and their children stay connected during deployment through reading aloud on videotape. Catherine (who lives and works in Eastern NC) told me about Give2TheTroops® branch in Greenville! The rest is history!

I realize now after raising four children (so you know I have volunteered) LOL I was really looking for something for ME now. G2TT is the most meaningful volunteer mission I have ever been involved in. I've met so many sincerely patriotic people anxious to donate their time, items and money. Speaking of money, my sincere appreciation to my husband who makes it possible for me to spend time volunteering and enjoying Eastern NC. I am retired, he is not so he now visits on weekends He says I have earned it and I have
Friday, May 16th 2008 @ 23:12 (3496 days, 14h, 56min ago)

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