SUPPORT-A-SOLDIER is one of seven Colorado charities nominated in Citywide Banks’ Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place October 1-14, 2013. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to vote for a nominee and enter prize drawings. The charity receiving the most contest votes will receive a $5,000 donation, while the other nominees will split $2,500 in donations based on the voting results.
The mission of Colorado-based nonprofit, Support-A-Soldier, is to fulfill requests from deployed troops who need gear and equipment, over and above what the military provides, to help make them safer, more comfortable, and more effective in combat. The organization also acts as a conduit between active soldiers and citizens who want to honor and give back to those who serve us.
Support-A-Soldier was founded in 2007 by a Colorado mom who just wanted to help her son, deployed in Iraq at the time. “He contacted me asking me to transfer some of his savings to his checking account so he could buy some fire-retardant gloves and scratch resistant ballistic sunglasses,” recalled Barb VanHorn the nonprofit’s co-founder and president. “When I questioned him why he didn’t go to the supply sergeant for his gear, he said he already had – several times, but that they were either the wrong size or out of stock.”
VanHorn learned that the troops often spent money out of their own pocket for items that were on backorder or were better quality than what was issued. “My son said it wasn’t a big deal but I really didn’t like the idea of a soldier having to pay for his own gear,” VanHorn said.
So she did what mothers have done for hundreds of years. She got creative to help her son. With her daughters, some girlfriends and neighbors, there were bake sales and garage sales and tables set out in front of local merchants. Enough money was raised to buy her son the gloves and sunglasses he needed to feel safer and more comfortable.
Mission accomplished! Well, not quite.
“About a month later he wrote back with another request. Some of his buddies on his team really needed the same gear and asked me if I was up for helping them out too,” VanHorn said. “Truthfully, I was honored to do so.”
After that, more requests started to pour in and so her fundraising efforts began in earnest. She soon discovered that it wasn’t very difficult to get people to donate money to help soldiers. “Along the way I found that it didn’t matter about politics or if people agreed or not with our involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan. Wherever I went and whomever I asked, they were all happy to help support the troops.”
VanHorn says they’ve helped all ranks of soldiers from a first-time deployed private first class, to an experienced team of Special Forces Green Berets. And although the organization’s name has the word “soldier” in it, they support any individual in any of the armed forces. The organization has raised thousands of dollars to help hundreds of soldiers buy anything from $10 hand and foot warmers to a $165 wrist-mounted GPS to providing an entire platoon with warm boots at a cost of $2,500.
While there are many organizations that support the military by helping them find jobs or assisting wounded vets, “SaS” is unique in the fact that they are one of the only organizations that support soldiers who are currently deployed. “These are the deployed fighting guys that truly are in the dirt, the rocks, the cold and the heat. These are the troops that are asking for some help to make their jobs a bit easier and sometimes safer, or their lives a little more comfortable while they are serving. and fighting for us. To be able to have the opportunity to fill a request and to give something back to these soldiers, well, I feel it is the least we can do for our deployed troops that put themselves on the line everyday for us.”
And VanHorn has the letters to prove that they are truly making a difference. You can visit www.SupportASoldier.us and read real emotion-filled request letters and heartfelt thank you letters from soldiers on the front lines.
A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would go toward filling Support-A-Soldier’s weekly gear requests from Colorado soldiers. Some frequent requests include hard-shell kneepads, wrist-mounted GPS systems, special flashlights, ballistic eyewear, infrared headlamps and radio pouches.
One way to help Support-A-Soldier, VanHorn suggests, is to hold your own fundraiser or ask your book club or church group to contribute during the holidays. But most important is to spread the word about their organization, so soldiers or their families know where to go for help and support. For more information on ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.SupportASoldier.us.
Vote to Give Support-A-Soldier a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned bank focused entirely on the Front Range, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with Support-A-Soldier. Through our Charity Hand-Up Contest, we are proud to spotlight the great work and ongoing needs of local nonprofits. Based on the results of a 14-day Facebook vote, the local community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win great prizes, including dinner for two at some of Denver’s top restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here. Full contest details are at www.CitywideBanks.com/charity/.
How to Cast Your Vote – October 1 -14
The contest is open to the general public within the Denver/Boulder community (non-customers welcome to participate; no purchase necessary). The easiest way to vote is online by clicking the “Charity Contest” tab on the Citywide Banks Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to “like” the bank’s Facebook page to cast a vote/entry online. One vote/entry is permitted during the 14-day contest. After voting on Facebook, users can use the sharing buttons to easily invite their Facebook friends to vote for their favorite charity.
Spread the Word about Support-A-Soldier
Tell your coworkers, friends, and family in Colorado to cast their vote for your favorite nonprofit. Use the sharing buttons above this article, on the Facebook voting page, or throughout Citywide Banks’ social media pages to help spread the word.