San Angelo, Texas — There are a handful of military bases in the state of Texas and Goodfellow Air Force Base is right here in San Angelo. That number grows when you talk about the entire nation though and with hundreds of thousands serving overseas, one woman is letting troops know people are thinking of them
Trish Shallenberger is the founder of ‘A Soldier’s Hands’ non-profit and the idea for that organization started right here in Texas 14 years ago with just one soon-to-be troop, but one troop grew to a hundred, to a couple hundred, to fifteen thousand.
Now she’s looking for the help of people all over to make a worldwide impact
‘A Soldier’s Hands’ all started on a delayed flight in a Dallas airport.
“Some time during that week, I switched my seats in the airplane,” Trish Shallenberger, Founder of ‘A Soldier’s Hands’ said.
That move put Trish Shallenberger next to a 19-year-old soon-to-be troop, who changed her life from that moment on. She saw his hands were damaged from the heat with welts and redness, then an exchange of hand cream led to conversation.
“He said I’m really not afraid of dying, he said, but I’m afraid of the heat and the sun,” ‘He said I can’t handle Texas, how am I going to handle Iraq?’
Shallenberger offered to send him care packages in Iraq, but he declined thinking of the rest of his unit.
“So, I told him I’ll send it to your whole unit, ‘how big is your unit?’ and he said 177,” Shallenberger explained.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving of 2007 and that troops entire unit had care packages. Many had not received anything from the moment they left home in March.
“As a mom of four, I think everybody has someone that’s taking care that’s got their back and that’s not the case,” Shallenberger said.
That unit of 177 led to a fort Hood battalion of 800 then to 15,000 overall. Something Shallenberger learned throughout the last 14 years was that getting gifts isn’t a norm for many who serve.
“What we’ve learned over this process is that over 50% of people that are deployed, never receive a mail call,” Shallenberger said.
That’s where her new project comes in, she’s looking for team leaders in every state to round up letters to send to 50 thousand U.S. Troops in Germany.
“If we find 10 captains in each of the 50 states and each captain is responsible for 100 letters, that’s 50,000 letters right there,” Shallenberger said.
Shallenberger calls it a simple process for a big reward for both those who receive and who give.
“A captain of this troop said, ‘You know what you sent was hope and you sent acknowledgement that we’re there,’ So that’s what keeps me going,” Shallenberger said.
Trish Shallenberger says on top of the letters, the gifts will also include a star from a retired
American flag. So, in addition to letters they’re needing 1,000 retired flags with embroidered stars.
How to become a team leader in your state:
- Visit https://www.asoldiershands.org/volunteers-opportunities.html
- Click ‘State Captain Sign Up’ on page
- Fill out informational form with name, email, etc.
- Get people to send in letters!
Link to thank you responses: https://www.asoldiershands.org/thank-you-notes-from-the-field.html