Central Texans Clinched Christmas for our Troops

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Editorial Comments

Board of Contributors

Sunday December 25, 2011     
Turn back the clock to Nov. 29: The Blue Star Mothers’ local chapter and VFW Post 6008 needed about $4,000 to mail off care packages, cards and notes that we had collected for our troops abroad. Neither group had the funds.

Something had to be done and done quickly.

That’s when countless Central Texans stepped up. Magical things happened.

The next day, a news crew from KWTX-TV visited my classroom at Tennyson Middle School to talk with students. As it is written, sometimes it is that little children lead the way. The kids on the evening news that night talked of the importance to our troops of gifts and messages from home. The Tribune Herald ran an editorial the next day summoning help. And KXXV-TV kept the story going. The message was clear: Troops would not get Christmas packages without the community’s help.

At about 10:30 that first night, I got a Facebook message from a fellow teacher who is part of a VFW motorcycle group from Gatesville. Riders there pledged $1,000.  The next day, a sweet couple from Speegleville drove into town and dropped off a substantial check. A man who donated the first $20 during our 2006 effort to send care packages came by this time with a big hug and a bigger check.

For the next three days, people of every stripe and color came by VFW Post 6008 and Poppa Rollo’s Pizza and gave what they could so our troops would not be left out come Christmas morning.

A friend of mine recently laid off from her job came up to me and handed me money. Through my tears, I looked at her hard. I asked her if she was sure. Her voice broke a little as she told me that she wished she had more. In that moment she redefined generosity and selfless giving. Countless others who left no name gave from that place deep in the heart.

In two days, Tennyson students organized a fundraiser, garnering $323. Students at China Spring ISD collected money. They brought a huge bag of change and bills totalling over $200. Woody’s Wrecker Service gave a significant donation.

The second day, Claude Ervin of Waco Scottish Rite Bodies called and made a proposal. He said that if we could raise the first half needed, his organization would match it. By Thursday, less than 48 hours after the news got out, we counted what we had. I called Mr. Ervin. Thanks to the Scottish Rite and the kind folks of Central Texas, we knew the troops would have their Christmas after all.

We are now busy writing thank-you notes for all those who gave checks or left names. But so many of you left cash; we’ll never know who you are. We hope that you read this and know how important your donation was, no matter how large or small. From the little kid with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to the grand men of the Scottish Rite, and everyone in between, the thanks of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines go out to you.

One thing is sure. Something very special happened in Central Texas those three days in early December. In a time of deep economic recession and tremendous anxiety, people who we will never know stepped up to help people they will probably never meet.

Some of you may have been that lonely soldier at Christmas long ago. Some of you may have had an empty place at the table on Christmas morning. Whoever you are, allow me to convey the thanks of many a tired and lonely service person who will spend this holiday ever vigilant, watching and waiting, making sure that the world we wake up in is safe and secure. Take a moment and remember all those serving. Say a prayer for their families and loved ones back home. Join us in a prayer for peace this Christmas Day.

Mary Duty, chairwoman of the humanities department at Tennyson Middle School, is president of the Blue Star Mothers of America’s Heart of Texas Chapter. Her son, Caleb, served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines in 2006 and 2008.



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