Sailor Recruits Enjoy A Magical Thanksgiving

“Welcome aboard the USS Thanksgiving! At the helm today, we have Captain George who will be steering us into a magical port called Oak Park, Illinois — a place where they have TVs….computers….phones….and good food.”

The thirty-four sailor recruits cheered and ooooorah’d as we pulled out of Great Lakes Naval Training Center heading for a Thanksgiving Day to remember. Most of them had been told they would be picked up and taken to a community soup kitchen to serve dinner to poor homeless people — they had no idea that Mother Goose and Company had made other plans for them!

The day started at 7:30 a.m. at the garage of Mid-America Charter Lines in Elk Grove Village, IL. Mother Goose had been chosen as the hostess with the mostest for this most exciting day — of course, as a Navy Mom, Mother Goose is very familiar with young sailors and relished the idea of riding the tour bus to pick up the recruits at the boot camp so bright and earlie in the morning.

With Captain George Kousakis and the USS Thanksgiving

With Captain George Kousakis and the USS Thanksgiving

We arrived at the base in plenty of time and with just a little bit of run-around, we loaded up the recruits. The U.S. Navy has implemented the Adopt-A-Sailor program for the recruits who can’t get home for the holidays. Organizations can apply to adopt as many recruits as they can accommodate, and if the application is accepted, you get to pick up your sailors for the day! It’s such a GREAT program! Look at their smiling faces!

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We arrived in our magical port where the computers, phones, TV and food were warmed up and ready for them. The sailors politely lined up to remove their coats, scarves, gloves, and covers (hats) and then politely asked where the computers and phones were. AND THEN THEY STARTED SMILING AND DIDN’T STOP SMILING FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS!!!

In boot camp (also referred to as basic training), the recruits are completely unplugged. There are no TVs, no radios or music, no computers, no phones, no internet — nothing but marching and training and discipline and eating their meals in five minutes. They learn new names for things — the bathroom is now the “head”, hats are now “covers”, time is now measured in 24-hour segments, they are known by their last names only and there is no hugging.

So Mother Goose hugged them all day long.

These sailors immediately found their way to Facebook, their emails, their favorite online games and surprised their moms and dads with phone calls. Most of the guys and gals had not heard the voices of their folks since they left their hometowns for boot camp five or six weeks earlier! Imagine the tears on the cheeks of the moms all across the country as they heard the voices of their young sailors…

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Besides the young recruits, our amazing team at Easter Seals also invited the veterans in our community who participate in our programs and services. It was a wonderful mix of young and old, squids and old salts, volunteers from all walks of life serving turkeys and the fixin’s donated and cooked by so many gracious helpers. It was a team effort and those are the best kinds of efforts according to this goose.

Volunteer and retired Army drill sergeant, Daniel and his wife and son served all day long.  Check out their biz, Gruntstyle.com for GREAT patriotic apparel.

Volunteer and retired Army drill sergeant, Daniel and his wife and son served all day long. Check out their biz, Gruntstyle.com for GREAT patriotic apparel.

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Our dinner with the recruits and veterans had a full agenda, including the Presentation of Colors by the Oak Park Police Department, poetry reading by Ms Josie Pierce of the American Women of Oak Park and Austin, presentations of roses to veterans and live music by a really talented musician named Ernie.

And then it was time to climb back aboard the USS Thanksgiving and head back to the base…hugs and tears all around. As Mother Goose climbed onto the bus, the sailors started singing at the top of their lungs!

“Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to foreign shores, We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay. Through our last night on shore, Drink to the foam, Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God’s Sun Let these colors be till all of time be done, done, done, On seven seas we learn Navy’s stern call: Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All.”

When we arrived at the base, thirty four sailors filed out of the bus with thankful hearts and happy faces. Each and every one of them gave Mother Goose a GREAT BIG HUG and said “thank you” and “happy Thanksgiving” and “God bless you”. Mother Goose smiled…

Rockin’ for the Troops with Mother Goose

For the second year in a row, Mother Goose and Company have rocked the troops and supported the work of Operation Support the Troops America. These folks have packed over a million pounds of “good stuff” and sent them overseas for the past ten years. Every summer they have a major fundraiser — a GRAND concert and celebration on the lovely grounds of Cantigny Park.

Founder, President and CEO Deborah Rickert.  She's known as Mother Rickert to the thousands of troops she's packed boxes for...

Founder, President and CEO Deborah Rickert. She’s known as Mother Rickert to the thousands of troops she’s packed boxes for…

We were the only table with roses...

We were the only table with roses…

We set up our Blue Star Family Platoon table in the Expo Tent and proceeded to talk with visitors about the great old tradition and how it is still a VITAL first level of connectedness for families who have sons, daughters, husbands or wives serving. There are many misunderstandings about the banners and I’d like to clear some of those up right here and now, because Mother Goose has some experience with the banners.

Myth #1 — You can only hang and display the banner if your loved one is deployed overseas.

Folks, that’s just not true. You can hang a service flag as soon as that bus leaves for bootcamp with your loved one on board.

Myth #2 — The stars mean that you have lost a loved one in a combat situation.

Oh no, friends. Blue Stars represent a service member who is alive and actively serving. Sadly, the Blue Stars are replaced by Gold Stars if our loved ones are lost in service to America. There were many Families of the Fallen at our event on Saturday. They are the ones who know TRUE sacrifice, pride and love all mixed together to make a Gold Star.

Myth #3 — That’s just a nice old tradition from back in the days of Selective Service. Now that we’re a volunteer military country, it’s just not that important.

WRONG! Now, more than ever, military families need to find each other for support and understand, for care and to learn about the resources available to them. We are always “looking for the Blue Star Banners” so that we can connect them to people who know what they are going through. Modern military families are invisible to the naked eye.

Shhhhh…..here’s a secret about Mother Goose:

She’s CRAZY about the Fast and Furious movie franchise! OMIGOOSENESS how exciting to see the ACTUAL vehicle used when they made the movie!!!

Navistar is a major partner of Operation Support our Troops and they were happy to bring this truck to the concert for Mother Goose to drool all over.

Navistar is a major partner of Operation Support our Troops and they were happy to bring this truck to the concert for Mother Goose to drool all over.

We met so many great people at the event and will be presenting quite a few banners as a result of these connections. All good stuff! Remember we are still in the middle of our very important fundraiser! Here’s a link to our page where you can make your pledge. Be sure to share us with your own network — WE LOVE YOU for that!

http://www.startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

All of the best and sweetest blessings on you and your family today from Mother Goose.

Mother Goose and the Box Packing Party

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Yesterday in Arlington Heights, IL was a time to embrace. Mother Goose was invited to help pack care boxes and address labels for a group who supports the troops One Box at a Time. Organized by my friends and Gold Star Mothers, Dawn Hedrick and Linda Stack, this event honors the loving memory of Marine LCpl James B. Stack who was killed in action in service to his country in Afghanistan 2010.

Our welcoming committee, Dawn's mother and Grandie.

Our welcoming committee, Dawn’s mother and Grandie.

For weeks, residents and community partners have been dropping off “good stuff” to send to the troops in and around the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Some of us have been collecting names and addresses of service members who are deployed to Afghanistan and other places around the world.

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“All gave some, some gave all.”

It all came together in one big packing party yesterday afternoon at the American Legion Hall in Arlington Heights as over one hundred volunteers arrived to the great delight of my friends.

Dawn directing and leading this mammoth project!

Dawn directing and leading this mammoth project!

Everything from soup to nuts, from tissue to Frisbee’s, from socks to raisins, from tea to toothpaste was quickly separated into convenient “stations” around the hall. The official filling of the boxes began with the beautiful pledge of allegiance which has even more meaning when spoken together with fathers and mothers who have lost a dear loved one in defense of their country and in the name of freedom.

Linda meeting with the press.

Linda meeting with the press.

Lunch was provided by the good folks from California Pizza Kitchen who also packed boxes with great passion.

Navy mom, Sue, along with Marine AND Army mom, Nancy addressing some labels.

Navy mom, Sue, along with Marine AND Army mom, Nancy addressing some labels.

When it was all said and done, we had filled a record-breaking 337 boxes of supplies, treats, magazines, cards and letters to send to the troops, One Box at a Time. AWESOMENESS!

Just a few of the finished boxes...

Just a few of the finished boxes…

Mother Goose was so proud to play a small role in adding some “positive” back into the world with these wonderful and amazing people! It was a time to remember, a time to make a difference in the lives of our brave troops! God bless the United States of America…

Mother Goose and Heather at the packing party.

Mother Goose and Heather at the packing party.

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

A dear friend of Mother Goose is once again collecting supplies and goodies to send to our dear troops deployed overseas. Her name is Dawn Hedrick, and she is a Gold Star Mother-in-Law. I have told her story here before. She, along with the mother of Lance Corporal James Bray Stack, have set a goal of sending boxes to 600 of our brave servicemen and women.

Once again we have the blessed opportunity to get involved. If you live in the Chicagoland area, there are many drop off points in the Arlington Heights area, including these noble retailers and service providers:

Here's the flyer!

Here’s the flyer!

And here’s a pretty comprehensive list of items that could be dropped off:

A list of items to send to the troops!

A list of items to send to the troops!

If you would like to contribute to the fund to cover the shipping expenses for these 600 boxes, please contact Dawn at this email address: helpUSAtroops@yahoo.com

I think you’ll agree that this is a GREAT way to support the troops, one box at a time! I hope that you’ll get involved either by providing items for the boxes, helping to pack the boxes on April 21st or helping to defray the expense of shipping the boxes! Mother Goose is so proud of our soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen and women.

I am also very proud of my dear readers who support the troops! God bless you today!