Monday, April 5, 2010

Soldier Baby Meets the Prez

3 years or so ago, when I was just establishing Toys for Troops, I received this e-mail from a young lady in the area:
My name is Jerrica Kuebler, and I have quite a few Beanie Babies I would like to give to you, if you're still collecting them. I'm actually in the process of joining the army, and will be leaving for basic training at the end of September. So if I could meet with you to give you the Beanie Babies before then, that would be great. 
I met her shortly thereafter. A petite, beautiful girl, I'll admit to being stunned at the idea that this one was going to bootcamp. She was the first young woman I'd met that had enlisted, and in the 5 minutes or so that I spoke to her before I bid her Good Luck and encouraged her to keep in touch, I developed a weird maternal ache. I know what it's like to send a son off to bootcamp. To send a daughter? This little thing, a soldier?

I lost track of her when she took off, and then got another e-mail from her a year later:
I met you along time ago when you were collecting Beanie Babies. I am now in the Army. [...] me and my roommate would each like to get a soldier's name and address to send them a care package. If you could please get back with me at your earliest convenience.
First she gives me beanies, then she's sending care packages...and then she herself was deployed, to Afghanistan. She was kind enough to send me the names of several of her colleagues, and they made up the majority of our female soldier babies on this year's care package mailing list.

She's nearing the end of her tour, counting down the days. It sounds like she's ready to come home, and yet, had one hell of a last hurrah this week:

You know, when my family, my friends, my soldier-babies do something amazing, or when they are something amazing, I just can't help being so darned proud and happy.

This was an exciting day for an amazing lady, and I hope Mr. President realizes, someday, who he just shook hands with.