Whatever made me think that after my official "52 Week Challenge to Patriotism" was over, I would be slowing down? October/November is gearing up to be one of my busiest times ever.
Paws in the Park - Sunday, Oct. 7th - The Fox Valley Animal Welfare League is once again hosting this annual event. I will be speaking about the Warrior Dog Project and there'll be loads of other pet enthusiasts and pet-related vendors on hand. Go to: www.fvawl/org for further information.
Petfest in LaSalle/Peru - Sunday, Oct. 14th - IVAR (Illinois Valley Animal Rescue) will be hosting its annual festival.
Letters 4 Vets - The second annual program for cards and letters for our veterans is now in the works. Last year our schools and others created almost 4,700 cards and letters to send to the veterans living in Illinois' four veterans homes and six area nursing homes. This year I hope we can reach the 5,000 mark.
I am currently sending out letters and instructions to all District 308 schools and hope to have a lot of support. Last year's cards and letters were absolutely phenomenal. It was an amazing experience to read the words from our town's young people!
If you have a club or service organization and would like to participate, please contact me at: email@example.com for information.
Stand Down Day - Thursday, November 8th, I'll have the privilege of going to the Armory in Chicago to help over 800 homeless veterans prepare for winter. Numerous Rotary Clubs will be participating in the project and as a member of the Rotary Club of Oswego, I'm thrilled to be able to go down and help distribute coats, gloves, hats, etc. There will also be doctors on hand giving physicals to these men and women.
What can you do to help with this endeaver? We're in need of gently-used (not new) coats. Larger sizes are much needed too. There are drop-off locations in town, or, as usual you can drop them off at my home at 26 E. Washington (green house/black shutters). Please put them in large plastic bags so they will be protected from the elements and I can haul them downtown. The excess coats will be given to a number of veterans facilities in the Chicagoland area for distribution.
FINAL TRIBUTES - My latest book will be released in time for Veterans Day. It relates the stories of some amazing Americans who have found inspirational ways to honor our fallen troops from Iraq & Afghanistan. It also lists over 6,532 names, ages, etc. of these heroes. It is my goal (with the help of many people) to provide a free book to the family of each fallen soldier as a way of saying thank you for your family's sacrifice. I am working on setting-up a website, but for the time being, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. I am seeking generous people who would like to be sponsors to help buy books for these very deserving families. Veterans Day is the perfect time for this.
Veterans Day at River's Edge Theatre - A very special afternoon is planned at the River's Edge Theatre in Yorkville where I'll be unveiling my book, hosting some of the families of the fallen, giving a program and doing a booksigning. I will be giving you more information on their website and tickets, etc. in the near future.
Those are the high points of my Fall and hopefully there will be something you'll want to help with or participate in. Many of you know it's also a very sad time with the loss of my ex-husband Jim. As you can imagine, his sons are struggling with the loss of their Dad. Doing things and having goals and projects helps all of us cope and in some small way allows me to honor him by participating in these various veterans projects. Jim was a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in Vietnam and he was buried with full military honors at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood. (see photos above).
During his last hospital stay I told him a lot about the progress of my book and some of the amazing people's stories. He was very touched by these inspirational stories, and I only wish I had been able to give him a copy of "Final Tributes", but we move on and we honor the people whose lives mattered by how we live our own - what we do to make this a better world is the biggest honor we can pay to our loved ones. Each new day brings us many opportunities to do so.
As always.................lived an inspired and patriotic life!