Monday, December 8, 2008

Fightin' Mad Mary & Q Rock TFT's World

All of those boxes in the last post are on their way to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.

I have so much to tell you about so many wonderful people that helped make this event a success. There are several post-worthy tales, and instead of lumping them all into one post, I've decided to "reveal" them a post at time.

Now, I'm revealing a little secret.

While we collected and wraps gifts yesterday, Fightin Mad Mary & Q, our favorite Hollywood Bloggers, had a fundraiser for Toys for Troops last night, at their home in Studio City, California.

Fightin' Mad Mary (left), 2 people I don't know,
and GloZell (right), whom I feel like I know.

I've been in cahoots with Mary, sending her posters and chotchkes for her shindig, while she worked and worked and worked. I know: I stalked saw her tweets. "Looking for someone to donate wine." "Looking for a caterer." "Making out invitations."

It look like she pulled her event off without a hitch. Barefoot Wines donated all of the wine, and sent a representative to serve, for the party. Catering and furniture were donated, and guests brought their checkbooks.

The total value of the donations that Mary and Q raised for Toys for Troops:


Get out! I know!

Mary called me last night, with her post-party wrap up. She was as exhausted as I was, but we both laughed on the phone, comparing notes and telling stories about our perspective days. There's something special about meeting, and talking to Mary: When you walk away (or hang up the phone), you're amazed to suddenly realize that you haven't been friends with her since grade school. She just makes you feel like you've been friends your entire life!

I haven't met Q, yet, but I've seen his photos, read his writing, and met his wife. I have no doubt he'll be my second-best friend when I meet them together, some day!

Q and A Celebrity: Any Scrubs fans recognize this guest?

This is the part where I become speechless...but I'll try to keep speech-ing.

You know, when someone does something little for me, I get all smiley and want to do cartwheels: "I remembered you like raspberry, so I picked this up at the bakery." You did that for me? Yayyyy! A cookie! Thank you! I can't believe you did that!

When someone--someone 2000 miles away!--gives up their home, finds beverages, and caterers and furniture, and invites 150 people to give money to help send packages to soldiers on my mailing list? And those people show up? And write checks? And they send money to PayPal, and e-mail me with encouraging messages?

[15 minutes of staring at this screen, trying to figure out what to write next]...

There just needs to be a word or phrase in the English language for "Thank You" that is larger in magnitude than a cookie thank you. A thank you that expresses that when I think about what you've done for us, I experience a small catch in my breath. A swelling in my heart. A shaking of my head, and a widening of my eyes.

Mary and Q: When I come up with that word, I'm sending it to you.

To read about Fightin Mad Mary's, and see the slideshow of photos from her event, click HERE.

Christmas Gifts to Soldiers: Mini Wrap Up

It's midnight.

Our event was so successful today that I am just this minute finalizing everything. We had a huge crew of volunteers, and a steady stream of people dropped off gifts and cash donations for the entire 3 hours we'd allotted for the event—and then for another hour. I finally had to just bring everything home and finish up the packing in my living room.

Every soldier on our list will get 2 boxes this year, and there are random items left to send, so they'll get MORE from us after tomorrow.

There were LOTS of homemade cookies; the bakers in this berg really delivered, today.

There were 2 TV stations, and 1 newspaper reporter present.

I shared the afternoon with students from the University, 1 foreign exchange student from Slovakia, former soldiers, current National Guardsmen, former high school buddies, soldier's parents and families, local bloggers, several of my own cousins, my sister and her husband, my mother, my niece, old friends, and new friends. And Clint, of course.

We had a special treat at the end of the day, when Musician/Comedian Jim Kates (Campfire Jim) arrived, and graced us with a song he wrote, called "An Untitled Song for an Unknown Soldier."

As I said, it's midnight. Every box is labeled, and ready to go to the post office in the morning. I am exhausted, and happy, and I will post more pictures, and YouTube videos of Jim's performance, tomorrow, if I get a chance.

This is one of THREE vehicles it took to get everything home, tonight.

And if you're wondering...


The brownies are ready to go.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We're Here to Help

I sent out an e-newsletter for Toys for Troops this week, reminding everyone that our event is this Sunday. One quick important message can bear repeating here:
HEY! YOU! YOU OUT-OF-TOWNERS! And even you Out-of-Staters! There's still time for you and your family, or your coworkers, to gather up a box to send to a soldier. You can stuff a military flat-rate box to the gills with all of the goodies you can think of, and mail it to a soldier yourself, for just $10.95. Take it from me: shopping for this box is FUN.

It's going to be one of the feel-goodiest things you do over the holidays.
This is one message I work hardest to stress to people I encounter in surrounding in communities, and correspond with from everywhere in the U.S.:

You can do something from wherever you are.

A large percentage of what I do for Toys for Troops is to help YOU help THEM.

One of my favorite "assists" was with an elderly (her words, not mine) woman, Carol. She lives about 50 miles away from me. She asked me to come to her home and box her beanies up. I was overextended at the time, and began walking her through mailing them herself. She resisted: She was scared, she'd do it wrong.

And then, out of the blue, she sent me this message:
I will "just do it." I am 68, 'bout time I grew up, right!!
Reviewing her e-mails still makes me smile: Subject lines read: "Sorry to bother you again." Aw, she never bothered me. And then, one day, I read this, from her:
I printed your email so I can take the paper to the Post Office with me. I have 105 packed in a Weinie-Pak box from Devro-Tee Pak, they are smashed clear to the top. I need to go to the attic tomorrow and cut me a piece of brown, craft paper to cover up the name of the company.

Harold & I weighed the box on our home scales, about 35 pounds. So I will put my to & from label on it for PFC _______ and get them shipped. I, again thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Yeah! They did it! Carol and Harold mailed their boxes. I knew they could do it.

If you'd like to do something for the troops this year, from wherever you are, there's still time for you to do it. Deadlines are closing in on us, but there's still time. And we will help you. Email me:

While we help you, there are others out there helping us:

Marie Millard is not sending Christmas cards this year...

And Fightin Mad Mary has something up her sleeve.

Note that they are "Not from around here." They're doing something from "over there."

You're welcome to join them.