Georgia Man Starts Massive Letter-Writing Campaign for Troops
By Sharon Foster
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2008 The idea of getting people involved in a letter-writing campaign to reach all servicemembers currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan -- about 178,000 -- may seem a little far-fetched for the average person, but Cody Anderson is by no means “average.”
For several years, Anderson has been collecting, packing, shipping and delivering care packages and phone cards to U.S. troops stationed around the world.
Anderson, 53, a resident of Mineral Buff, Ga., has raised $50,000 in supplies, including personal hygiene items, games and snacks; $50,000 in phone cards; and $21,500 in Beanie Babies, to be given to Iraqi children, for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has personally delivered phone cards to five U.S. bases in Kuwait.
“I love doing this,” Anderson said. “We owe them so many ‘thank yous.’ The troops have given and continue to give so much. This is a life-long love to show appreciation and respect. There is always something to be done for the troops,” he said.
With this sentiment, Anderson is on another mission for U.S. troops. “Operation S.O.S.” is his latest venture. He stressed the mission is a letter-writing campaign, not just a few letters here and there. He said he’s hoping to encourage everyone to write one letter to every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with the letter, Anderson is requesting participants include a $10 phone card.
“It only takes five minutes to write a short letter of thanks,” Anderson said. “The care, concern and love of a stranger can make a big difference in a soldier’s life. We can always find something to do to uplift their spirits. This is just a small token of appreciation. Troops are always looking for kind words of encouragement.”
Anderson has already collected about 300 letters and has set no deadline in receiving more until he reaches his goal.
Operation Give, a group that supplies humanitarian aid to civilians in combat zones, also is helping Anderson collect letters to send off to troops. Operation Give is a member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
“We are excited about helping Cody with these letters,” said Paul Holton, Operation Give director. “I think what he is doing is a great thing. He contacted us to help him with this project, and of course, we said yes. I’ve been over there, so I know what it’s like to get letters back from home. Anything that we can do to let the troops know we support them is important.”
Interested people should send their letters for the troops to: Operation Give, Attn: Operation S.O.S., 2363 South Scenic Dr., Salt Lake City, Utah 84109.