Teen's Campaign for U.S. Troops Draws Presidential Praise
- Allie Martin and Jenni Parker Agape Press
- 2005 5 May
A heartwarming effort initiated last year by an Orange, California, high school student has resulted in American troops overseas receiving more than a million letters from children nationwide.
Early last year, Lutheran High School student Shauna Fleming invited 1,100 classmates to join her in a letter writing campaign called "A Million Thanks." The goal of the initiative was to collect and distribute one million letters of appreciation to current and past members of the U.S. military.
The campaign reached that goal nearly six months after the project began. But then, Fleming received a major surprise. "As soon as we hit the millionth letter," she says, "we got a phone call from the White House saying that President Bush would love to meet me in the Oval Office so I could give him this letter."
So in November, Fleming traveled to Washington, DC, and met with President Bush and handed over the one-millionth letter that her campaign had collected for the troops. The young girl was impressed with the President and notes, "he was just so sincere, so genuine about everything that's going on in our country and was so excited that people were getting up and volunteering
in their community."
Now, the California high school student has raised her campaign's benchmark to 1.4 million letters. That number is significant, she explains, because it corresponds with the number of active members of America's armed forces. "And I just thought that was incredibly important," she says, "that -- even though it may not be in their hands -- symbolically, each one of them will get a letter. And who knows? That may eventually happen."
And it might, since Fleming is not only an optimist but an activist, and a determined one at that. The teenager has chronicled the letter writing campaign in a new book titled A Million Thanks (Doubleday, 2005), and she also maintains a website (www.amillionthanks.org) and has her own Internet radio show, "A Million Thanks Radio (www.wsradio.com).
© 2005 Agape Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.