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Archive for November, 2010

The recent report from USAToday about military related charities and groups, including NMFA’s Operation Purple Camps – those camps that help kids get together with other kids whose parents are deployed – is worrying me. When Chief was in the Guard, and we were all going through the very long deployment to Iraq, these camps were fantastic for the National Guard kids – most of who lived in areas where they were the only ones going through this. To find out that they are running out of money is of concern to all of us. ****  Added 11/23 – good news, if you donate to NMFA, Newmans Own is matching donations!  Here’s a link.

Homes for our Troops, a fantastic group that builds or adapts housing for wounded veterans, is also running out of money! So is Air Compassion for Veterans, a group that buys tickets for wounded vets’ family members to visit, or get the wounded air ambulance services. These groups do a tremendous service to veterans and their families.

It seems the same wonderful donor, David Gelbaum (thank you sir) endowed these charities and those endowments are running out. Will anyone else step up? For whatever reason, be it the length of the conflicts/wars/actions that is approaching the decade mark; or be it the fact that there are so many groups asking for money and help, the pool of money is drying up. The big donors have given, and keep giving. The selfish won’t give, and for most of the rest of us, the pot of money isn’t anywhere near deep enough.

The problem of too many groups, no central location to find out about them, to connect the group with the person looking for help or the group with the donor, is one the military community and others have been struggling with for a while now. It surely doesn’t help when the lowlife scum who prey on kindhearted people succeed in scamming the public, such as “Commander Billy Thompson” who has raised millions by rubbing shoulders with politicians, using his connections/donations to the same politicians to appear legitimate.

Solutions? Anyone?  I’ve also linked to these groups, just click on their names (except for Billy Thompson, if you click on that,  take a look at this slime and if you know where he is, call the cops)  – and donate if you can.  If you are a donor to another group, and want to get their info out, feel free to put the link in the comments.

kesf

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for care packages and deadlines and the dreaded customs forms.  Since this year I don’t have anyone from the family downrange, I haven’t been collecting the goodies and the silly little toys etc.  This year, was a knitting year.

As you may remember from a past post, Operation Gratitude does a great job getting care packages, including warm hats and scarves, to the troops.  I was very privileged to be able to work with them again this year.  The great contributors who knit out of a wonderful shop in Alexandria – fibre space™- made a LOT of scarves!  And the lovely ladies who run fibre space™ were kind enough to hold them there as a collection point until I could get down there and pick them up.

Packing them up, together with those that my mother worked on and the hats done on the train all year, was a superb start to the gift giving season.  My thanks to the knitters at fibre space™ and the staff, to my mom, and to the fantastic people at Operation Gratitude and the Armory where they collect and repack all the wonderful items they collect for the packages.

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I saw that someone writing for the Stars & Stripes wanted an opinion on Army Wives. So I sent a quick email.. thinking that they might get in touch. A half hour later…

VOILA

Stars & Stripes on Army Wives

Yes, that’s my name.  Kinda cool, huh?

KSF

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The first hint of the size of the rally, was the sardine tin packing of the Yellow line right after we left Huntington – by the time we hit King Street, we were laughing, by the time we got to the Pentagon Station, even the train driver was chuckling! Getting off at the Navy Memorial, we headed down towards the Mall. It was incredibly crowded, but ….. polite. That’s the word for it – polite. Sure there was shoving – after all when you are trying to walk forward in a crowd of literally thousands and trying to keep up with someone, there will be some pushing, but a lot of “excuse me, pardon me”. No yelling, no screaming, no spittle flecked howling at the “other”.


We weren’t able to see the stage except from very very very far away. I plunked myself down at the corner of 4th, and Chief took off to take pictures (here’s the link to his flickr). That corner filled up really quickly – some younger fit types climbed trees, some older folks from Florida sat and watched, and we all pointed out fun signs and crazy costumes. One woman had her Iphone tuned into the Comedy channel, and we tried to make out what people were saying. We did the wave when everyone did, and jumped up and down when we tried to “shift” perceptions. Then we heard the Star Spangled Banner begin. The older folks stood, hats came off, then the younger ones took their hats off, some around me sang along. For a crowd of a few hundred thousand, it became quieter (it was never QUIET) and the anthem was treated with respect.

I appreciated, as did all the “native DC area dwellers” Jon Stewart’s request to everyone to clean up after themselves. I haven’t seen any stories that this request was followed, but I did see people “policing their area” before they left. The trash cans were full, but that’s a good sign. The lack of JumboTrons and the poor sound quality were not fun for those of us there, who were over to the side and not in the Central Area of the Mall. But since we all heard that they were not expecting the numbers that came, I’m thinking that was simply due to a lack of coordinating when the numbers started to skyrocket, as well as the availability of more equipment. After all, someone forgot to tell them, when they were scheduling that the Marine Corps Marathon was this weekend as well, and that they have a lock on the PortaJohns and other paraphernalia needed for a large scale “do” in this city. Seriously, are you going to say NO to a Marine or to a geek from Comedy Central… the geek gets the no, the Marine gets whatever the hell he or she wants!

The only ones I felt sorry for were the dogs. That’s a lot of people, a lot of knees to avoid! The police were out in force, the fools sitting on top of the port-a-johns and the Police Department horse trailers were shoo-ed off periodically, but no one seemed to get screamingly upset about it. There was a lot of “would you look at those idiots” from the crowd directed at the guys on the port-a johns (seriously, if the roof gave way…. ewwwwww)  … but again, niceness.

The signs were a great mix of pointed politically and some completely off the wall, no point, just A SIGN. A lot of them were about TeaBaggers and the prevalent Fox news bias, a lot of jabs at Beck – my favourite was “Glen Beck has brainwashed my grandparents, I want my gramma back”; and some nonsense ones. Refudiate Insanity – a standout! And “beat your pitchfork into sporks”… clever stuff!

All in all, for a rally that they say topped out at about 300,000 – and notwithstanding the Metro escalator accident, it was a great rally! A rally for niceness, for taking it down a notch, for civility. Such a wonderful change from the usual around here.  If you were there too, sorry I missed you. Leave a comment, tell me what you enjoyed/hated the most.

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