America Supports You: Fox News Spotlights Teen's Letter-writing Campaign
By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2006 The 16-year-old founder of "A Million Thanks," a nationwide program encouraging students to write thank-you letters to servicemembers, appeared on "Fox and Friends" this morning to speak about her new campaign to send 2.6 million cards and letters to the troops in 2006.
Shauna Fleming of "A Million Thanks" joins Brian Kilmeade, co-host of "Fox and Friends" on his program today in Hollywood, Calif. Fleming talked about her goal of getting 2.6 million letters and cards of thanks to troops in 2006. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Shauna Fleming, whose organization has so far collected 1.6 million thank-you letters, said her goal of 2.6 million represents the number of troops -- active duty, National Guard, and Reserve -- in the American armed forces.
Fleming conceived her program as a way to help her school reach out to America's men and women in uniform.
"I just wanted to so something to let our troops know that we appreciate them, that we are still there for them," she said. "So I went to my high school principal and the faculty and all the students, and I said, I'd like everyone to get involved in doing this, and the ball got rolling, and everyone was behind it, (including) the surrounding community. It actually became a nationwide program, and I've been continuing ever since."
Launched in May 2004, Fleming's program reached its original goal of a million thank-you letters only five months later. A Million Thanks was the first grassroots group to join the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program. Since then, the program has gained support from celebrities such as country music artist John Michael Montgomery and actor Gary Sinise, star of the television series "CSI: NY" and co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children.
Fleming said her group's partnership with the Defense Department helps get the word out to people who would like to participate.
"They have a great Web site set up," she said. "People can go to that site, AmericaSupportsYou.mil, they can click on that link, and it will tell exactly how you can write letters, and send them off so that we can reach our goal of 2.6 in 2006."
Army Spc. Mike Pecka joined the teen on "Fox and Friends." He had received some of the letters while deployed to Iraq and stressed their importance to the troops.
"It makes all the difference because when you're over there, you don't get a lot of mail. Mail is hard to come by," Pecka said.
The first box of letters Pecka got from Fleming's group weighed 13 pounds. He brought one letter as an example. "I picked this out before I disbursed them to all the troops over there," he said.
Pecka said when he read the hand-written letter with a drawing of the flag, he really took it to heart. "It actually made me cry."
"It's an amazing thing what these little kids do for us, and when it comes from little kids from middle school and elementary, it makes all the difference, and like I said, it made me cry."
"Fox and Friends" anchor Steve Doocy read one letter from a young student named Amanda, of Paramus, N.J. "Thank you for being my hero and being brave out there. I really am proud to be an American because of you, and only you."
Fleming expressed her hope to continue bringing this message to troops for a long time to come. She went on to describe her own feelings of gratitude to Pecka.
"Hearing from Spc. Pecka, it just means all the more to me," she said. "He sent me a flag from Iraq, which I opened with Gen. Myers, the former (chairman of the) Joint Chiefs of Staff, and just something like that really hits home. It's something I want to do forever."