Sometimes big things start in small ways. Take the efforts of US Army Specialist Gerardo Llamas stationed with the HQ ISAF forces in Kabul. SPC Llamas simply recognized that the people he encountered had very little, if nothing, in the way of cold weather gear to combat what can be frigid winter temperatures in Afghanistan. SPC Llamas had the idea to post a request on Craigslist to try and personally secure some blankets for the local community. That request was seen by blogger and author, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, and she posted it on her blog "Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel". She also emailed Spirit of America to see if we could help. Just like Ms. Miller, we were impressed with SPC Llamas' story which is exactly the kind of individual initiative that Spirit of America was founded to support. With your contributions to this project, we would like to help provide the supplies he requests.
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"First I would like to thank you for your interest in helping me make this effort a possibility. The idea came when I got here and realized how poor the people were in Afghanistan. I was suddenly interested in learning more about them, how they lived, their customs, and their way of life. As I started learning from other people here, including the local nationals that worked on the base, I was amazed by their needs and lack of simple things, such as a blanket. Things that we usually take for granted back home. I knew winter here tends to be rough and severe. So I wanted to do something else besides my military duty to help the people of Afghanistan and make a difference in someone's life. I first thought about buying a few blankets myself and donating them, but for some reason it didn't seem fair. There are hundreds of families out there suffering from the cold. I wanted to do more but of course I did not have the money to help everybody. That's when I thought about collecting blankets from back home. I first wanted to get in touch with family members so they could help me by getting blankets from around the neighborhood or church. After talking to them I decided I wanted more; I wanted to help the most people I could. All of a sudden I found myself browsing through Craigslist.com for some item for my entertainment here and that's when I realized the huge number of people that browse through Craigslist.com. I decided that if I put a post on Craigslist asking for donations at least 50 people would see it and might help. I posted in different places -- San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Chicago and a few more places -- the more people I could get to read these posts the better.So far I have received about 50 replies from different places, but nothing has arrived yet. Some people said they would donate their old blankets, some said they'd buy some, some others even offered to collect blankets at their workplace or church. I'm currently assigned to HQ ISAF in Kabul. I'm an individual augmentee, therefore my unit is back in San Antonio, Texas. I came here as a volunteer. The people I'd be donating to are locals -- from villages around the city to the local orphanage and children's hospital. I plan to distribute the blankets to the most people I can around the area. Thank you for your interest and support to the troops, God bless!"
--US Army Specialist Gerardo Llamas, HQ ISAF, Kabul, Afghanistan