Published January 6, 2009
When we launched "Operation Holiday Cheer" around Thanksgiviing, The Vindicator had a proud sense of duty to help out.
But we also felt nervous because there was no assurance you readers would respond.
Even as the program rolled into its third anf fourth week in early December, we were not overwhelmed with questions or calls from the community. A few came in -- but only a few.
Alas, why should we have doubted you?
Read below -- and THANK YOU for making area soldiers' lives a bit better over the holidays.
We will do this again.
To The Youngstown Vindicator,
I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the Operation: Holiday Cheer section that you ran this season. I am currently deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was a bit surprised when I began receiving Christmas Cards and Care Packages from people whose names I didn't recognize but who lived in the Youngstown area.
Having grown up in Austintown, I at first thought that they must be coming from friends of family, who still live in the area; however, when one of the letters included the article from the Youngstown Vindicator, I soon found that my Grandmother had submitted my name to the newspaper without my knowledge.
Over the next few weeks, I would approximate that I received upwards of 150 cards, letters, and packages from Youngstown area families and churches, most of whom didn't even know who I was.
There is no feeling quite like having your name called during mail call, and thanks to the people of Youngstown, my name was called very often. I read aloud many of the letters and shared the cards and package contents with my soldiers, some of whom were not receiving much holiday mail.
The longer it went on, the more touched I became at the prospect of people who I didn't know taking the time to send out Christmas Cards to a total stranger.
From Austintown to Cortland; and Salem to Boardman, I want to thank everyone who took the time to write down a few words, not just to me, but to any of the Soldiers deployed overseas this holiday season.
Your efforts had a huge impact on my Christmas and I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who was touched by your generosity. I would especially like to thank the teachers, schools, and students who participated in the program.
Patriotism may not be a required class, but it's good to know that Ohio parents and schools are still instilling values into their children. I'd like to give you all A's for reminding me that there are still good Americans out there who take the time to do the right thing.
I live in San Diego, California now, where I will be returning in a few months to my family; but, I will always have fond memories of northeast Ohio, and I just wanted to thank you for reminding me of how lucky I am to have been raised there.
Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous 2009.
A Thankful Soldier