LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A campaign to write letters to service members overseas comes to Southwest Florida. "Savannah's Soldiers" is a non-profit organization, founded by a 12-year-old from near Fort Lauderdale.
"My best friend's dad was deployed to Afghanistan nearly two years ago, and I felt so much for her missing her dad, that I decided to start writing letters to his unit. Then, it grew from there," explained Savannah Maddison.
Her organization, "Savannah's Soldiers", has sent 60,000 letters to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen overseas. She hopes to reach the 100,000 mark in a few months. Savannah read from a typical letter from a child to a soldier: "You are my hero. When I grow up, I want to be like you. I respect what you are doing for our country."
"It feels good to know that there may be a solider in a horrible place, who is fighting for our country, and you can give him a chance to relax for a moment and read a letter. That is really cool," said Savannah.
On Tuesday, Savannah and her mother travelled to Lee County to meet with Boston Red Sox officials, about putting a table on the concourse at spring training games this March. People could get information about the group at the table, and also could write letters to be sent overseas.
Savannah's mother, Monique Ogden, said they received a warm and gracious welcome from team officials, and she is hopeful that their request to set up a table at Jet Blue Park will be approved.
Meantime, Savannah, who is homeschooled, spends a lot of time going to schools to encourage students to write letters. She says many service members respond to the letters on Facebook or with emails. They often post pictures of themselves, holding up the letters and smiling.
"That is the best part, to see the smiles on their faces," said Savannah.
Ogden said of her daughter, "I am so proud of her. I tell parents, let your kids do things. Our kids can change the world! We have so many freedoms that we take for granted. It is really good to do something for the service men and women, who are defending freedom and doing good things all over the world."