Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our 5th Birthday

On March 31st, 2007  I created a little Facebook group Called "Tim Hortons For Our Troops after I had heard that there had been a location opened in Afghanistan for troops and that they were paying for their coffee. What I didn’t know at the time but found out later was that Tim Hortons did not charge franchise fees and that all profit from the Timmies location go back in to the Military Families fund. The membership of this group grew very fast in just under a week it had already gained 4000 members and people wanted to help. Here we are four years later and group members have sent over $45,000 in free coffee. The Royal Canadian Legions troop morale fun had sent over $300,000 in free coffee to our troops deployed in Afghanistan.  
When my 92 year old grandmother in Grand- Falls Newfoundland heard m e on VOCM News (A station in Newfoundland) talking about Tim Hortons for our troops she wanted to get involved. Her and my aunt Shirley went out to Tim Hortons to buy their paper certificates and they wrote “God Bless you and stay safe” on every single one of them. About six months later the Military Family Resource Center had delivered all the certificates I had delivered that were sent to them from all over Canada. At the time I was running as a related group and I received a very nice email one day from an American soldier who had received the certificates from my grandmother and wanted to say thank you. 
I printed off the email and had it sent to my Nan and to this day she still has it framed and tells people about the nice letter she got back from a U.S. Soldier. On November 20th, 2007 just after moving to Calgary from Toronto I went out to check the mail and saw that I had received something from the Tim Hortons head office. 

I opened it and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that they had sent me the last remaining Tim Hortons Kandahar hat that they were giving away as “Roll up the Rim” Afghanistan and apparently soldiers were trading digital cameras for them. I wear this hat proudly to this day and didn’t want to put it away or on a shelf. In February of 2009, we had a new manager starting at the company I used to work for and I had heard that he had done three tours in Afghanistan as a sniper and was looking forward to meeting him. After about week of him being there I went to introduce myself and told him about the site 

 and what we were doing. He not only had heard of it , he had received a stack of Tim Hortons certificates from a group of grade four students at a school in Toronto, Ontario. He said “Tomorrow, I have to bring something to show you” . The next day he came in to work and showed me one of the certificates he had received and on it was a drawing of a heart, with the words “I LOVE YOU – Please come home safe” from a student in grade three. He told me he had used the other one’s but kept this one in his pocket during all three of his tours and wanted to keep it with him until he did make it home.
A few months later, I received an email from a group of soldiers that were just back from tour and had received certificates from a elementary school in Toronto, Ontario and they wanted me to arrange to go in to meet the kids and say thank you. I contacted the principal and told her and they were very excited to meet them. So I had arranged this and i didn’t know that they were bringing the entire school in for an assembly in which I had to give a speech in front of. A little nerve wrecking to say the least but before I got up to speak the principal gave an amazing speech about how the kids should never feel like ideas are insignificant as “One drop of water in the ocean is all it takes” The soldiers then spoke and I’ve never seen a more quiet bunch of kids in all my life and that is one day I will never forget.
In 2009 after two years of running Tim Hortons for Our Troops and I went to log on to the site and saw a message from a company in Pakistan that had shut my site down with some pretty hateful messages all over my main page towards our troops. I wanted to give up and throw in the towel as all my work, my pictures and website was gone. This group had totally destroyed the server that was hosting it. I was talking with the mother of a fallen soldier who died serving his country at the age of 24 and she said “You can’t quit, I’ve met so many people from your site and other fallen soldiers families that have helped me grieve. When soldiers are killed in Afghanistan the other soldiers have to keep going the next day and move on” Those words will stick with me for as long as I live.
The next day I was listening to "The Red & White" by Julian Austin and there is a line in it that says "Do we take the time to Thank A Soldier for everything they do" and thus "THANK A SOLDIER" was launched.
I wanted to thank every one who sent certificates when we were doing this, who invited people to the groups and have always supported this and my other projects. Thank You to Tim Hortons for supplying the location at no cost and allowing the proceeds sold to go back to the military families that need it.  
The doors of the Tim Hortons in Afghanistan are now closed as of November 2011 but I hope we atleast made the lives of our troops a little easier.

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