Last August, the Iowa National Guard deployed to Afghanistan, its largest deployment since World War II. (More)

This deployment was so widespread that almost every community in Iowa has been impacted. Everyone knows at least one soldier who has been deployed.

At work, a co-worker and friend, Rob, has been in Afghanistan since August, and was absent from work all of July to get ready for the deployment. At home, both of my sons have several friends who are deployed. So far, the casualties that have been reported have not been for anyone we know personally. Medal of Honor winner, Sal Giunta, graduated from the same high school that the Younger W now attends.

Lots of CARE packages are being prepared at school and at work. But that doesn’t mean that more aren’t needed. There are still tens of thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan who need to have all those “little things” that make life better but aren’t provided by the military. As far as Rob goes, he can’t ever seem to get enough FOOD! But he admitted this afternoon that he requests a new CARE package from home when the toilet paper begins to run out. That was the biggest single item so that he “doesn’t have to use the sand paper.” If you look further down in this diary, you will see that you can designate specific service members to receive one of the NFTT care packages.

If you know someone serving, anywhere in the world, you know how seriously they take this responsibility. I may not agree with every location that our soldiers get sent, but my gripe isn’t with them, and we shouldn’t leave them without basic necessities. (Note: the latest from Rob is that the President’s statements about getting out of Afghanistan are serious, as they will probably not have to serve out their full deployment before they are ordered to leave Afghanistan.)

This is our chance to make a huge difference for soldiers serving around the world. If you have the means in these tough times to give even a little, I urge you to click the DONATE button below in order to help us get closer to our goal of $100,000. It sounds like a lot, but if enough of the Netroots each can afford even as little as $5 or $10, it shouldn’t take long at all before we have met that goal.

And, if you can’t provide money, perhaps you know someone who can be contacted to provide in-kind donations to the cause. This will allow what funds we have to go that much further and provide even more packages for our troops.

If you don’t know someone to provide in-kind donations, then see options 3, 5 or 6 below, to either write another diary in this NFTT fundraising, write letters to be included in the packages or to help assemble the packages in Minneapolis. I haven’t yet been able to attend Netroots Nation, but from the pictures of last year’s event, the people who worked on the packages had a great time and got to know each other even better. If you’re going to be there anyway, it’s an event that sounds like a great deal of fun while doing something of import. Either of the writing options won’t cost you anything, but contribute to the cause.

On behalf of Rob, the friends of my sons, and the other Iowa Guardsmen, I think you for contributing whatever you can.

Our goal for Netroots For The TroopsTM 2011 is $100,000.00 (cash or in-kind donations).

NFTT’s primary function is the purchasing and assembling of Care Packages at Netroots Nation to be mailed to American Military serving in war zones. However, the needs of our military families and veterans at home are also a NFTT priority. As llbear et al. have shown, far too often veterans and their families end up caught between a need and red tape. As we raise funds this year remember that your donation will be helping on multiple levels. Our deployed sons and daughter will know they have not been forgotten. Military families will know that they are not alone. Veterans at home will receive needed help.

We realize that you would like to donate something tangible to go inside the packages that will be mailed to the troops. Unfortunately, accepting in-kind donations from individuals is not practical in terms of storage and handling of the items. We will only be accepting corporate donations or cash from YOU to purchase items for the care packages this year.

Here’s how YOU can help:
1. Please contact TexDem if you know someone who might be helpful in securing the corporate in-kind donations. Just leave him a message through the dkos message system. To help you think of companies who could donate products, see below* for a list of potential items. Put your thinking caps on and let us hear from you. It takes time to get through the corporate processes so we need to hear from you ASAP!

2. We are accepting cash from individuals and -beg- ask that you DONATE HERE to contribute to this worthy cause. Your donation will enable us to purchase the things that we are unable to obtain through corporate donations, and will help to pay the costs of shipping them to our troops.

3. Sign up for a diary! Don’t worry—we’ve made it easy for you. We’ve got a template set up, and all you need to do is add a small introduction. You can tell us why you are donating or share a story of someone you know who has served or is serving. You can post some favorite pootie and woozel photos. Or how about some gardening photos? We love them! Recipes? We’re ready to cook. A list of the top ten guitarists of all time? We’ll listen. An homage to your favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer? (Terry Pratchett is one of mine.) We’ll be reading. We want you to have fun while raising money for our troops and their families. Just drop Onomastic/Ono a message through the dkos message system to get the template and on the schedule.

4. Do you know a service member who would like to receive a care package? Email a request to: info@netrootsforthetroops.com before May 31, 2011. Please include all of the following information. Unfortunately we will not be able to process any incomplete requests:
Rank:
Last name:
First name:
APO Address Line 1:
APO Address Line 2:
APO Address Zip:

If you know of a Military Unit that would like to receive care packages please include Unit and contact information by May 15, 2011.

5. Write letters to be included in the packages! If you need some ideas, rbutters wrote an excellent diary with tips on how to write letters to troops and why it’s so important to them.

6. Help us assemble the packages in Minneapolis. It’s fun! More information will be forthcoming for those of you who are going to be in Minneapolis and would like to help there.

7. Please consider joining the NFTT FaceBook Group. Invite your FaceBook and non-FaceBook friends.
_______________________

The goal for 2011 is 600 Care Packages assembled in Minneapolis, that equates to approximately $100,000.00. Again this was decided upon after seeing we could assemble 300 in 45 minutes in Pittsburgh. Those boxes had a retail value of approximately $210.00. The items we’ll be sending will be comparable to what was sent last year. However, that list is subject to modification based on suggestions, request and needs. Btw, check out the NFTT website.

*The following list contains some of the things we have included in packages. Please let us know if you know someone who might be helpful in securing these corporate in-kind donations. (Please DO NOT send these items yourself! We have no way to accept them. Instead, your cash donation is the very best way to help make this happen on the ground in Minneapolis.)

  • Baby wipes
  • Mechanix gloves
  • LED flashlights
  • Gel shoe insoles
  • Goop Cleaning Gel
  • Powdered energy drinks
  • Gel energy food packets
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Letters to the soldiers
  • More suggestions coming soon

The NFTT diaries are a way for the Daily Kos community to support the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and their families. We send them packages of items they might not otherwise receive through the normal military process but that they find useful. This is a non-political diary. While we understand there are differing views on the wars and the warriors, the site gives plenty of opportunity to express those views elsewhere. Furthermore, we would hope that users do not engage with those that attempt to hijack or otherwise disrupt these diaries.

We appreciate your understanding and support. Thanks!

Netroots For The TroopsTM is a project of Netroots for the Troops, Inc., a Virginia non-profit corporation. Netroots For The TroopsTM raises money for the assembly, mailing and delivery of care packages to American military in war zones, and to provide assistance to military families in the United States. Netroots For The Troops, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

(Reposted from Daily Kos)