LOS ANGELESThe California teenager who started a national letter writing campaign to collect and distribute 1 million letters and e-mails of appreciation to our service members and veterans, is now asking for donations of used music CDs and DVDs for troops stationed here and overseas.
Shauna Fleming, 15, a freshman at Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., and founder of the A Million Thanks organization, recently discovered that due to the extensions given to many of the troops overseas, music and movies are needed to help pass the time and for relaxation during breaks in their duties.
After having received and distributed almost 800,000 letters and e-mails toward her goal of 1 million, Fleming said she has been contacted by many military men, women, and their families telling her the letters and e-mails of appreciation help their morale.
I have had the opportunity to hear from many soldiers overseas who have received some of our letters. They e-mailed me and even called me from Iraq to say thanks for all the letters. Thats when I asked about their other needs, said Fleming. Music is a great form of relaxation for them, and after listening to the same music over and over, it gets kind of old, she added.
Fleming, who last week sent off thousands of thank-you letters to the 1st Armored Division and the hospital in Iraq, said she wants to be able to include music CDs with the next batch of letters. She is hoping people all over the U.S. will answer her plea with their used music and DVD movies along with their letters of appreciation.
Though Shauna and her school were hoping to reach their 1 million-letter goal last month, she said she knows they will hit their goal sometime soon.
The incoming mail to us has slowed because I think people thought we were only collecting the letters for National Military Appreciation Month, but our campaign is year-round. I know well hit our goal pretty soon as we are so close right now, Fleming said. When we do, well go for another million, she added.
The soon-to-be high school sophomore recently began doing her own radio show called, The A Million Thanks Show, with Shauna Fleming, on wsRadio.com, the largest Internet talk radio format in the world.
The station owner, Chris Murch, a business entrepreneur and former Marine captain, contacted Shauna after seeing her on Fox Network News on Memorial Day. Her monthly program, which discusses her campaign along with guest interviews, is archived, and can be heard on www.wsRadio.com.
Doing an Internet radio show gives me the opportunity to tell people all around the world that Americans do appreciate what our military men and women do for our country, and not to believe everything they read, said Fleming. It also lets me inform everyone what I hear from our soldiers who are out there, and how we can help them and their families, she added.
Two months ago, Shauna teamed up with country artist John Michael Montgomery, whose hit song, Letters From Home, went to No. 2 on the country music chart. Montgomery, who also heard about Shaunas campaign, has had her on stage with him at two events including the opening ceremony for the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Race and a concert in San Diego. They also did more than 100 radio and television interviews together.
A few other music artists have songs out about soldiers wanting mail or reading letters that also lend themselves to what Shauna is trying to accomplish with her letter campaign.
Along with the music industry, NASCAR, several drivers, team owners and sponsors have been supporters of the A Million Thanks campaign. Drivers Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Ricky Rudd have offered their support after seeing Shauna at two NASCAR events. This September, she will once again set up her tent at the California Speedway for the Labor Day race in Fontana, Calif. Shauna and her school volunteers will be out collecting letters from fans attending the race.
Theres a lot of men and women serving our country who need to know we appreciate them, and Ill collect letters for them any way I can, Fleming said. For more information on sending letters and used CDs/DVDs go to www.aMillionThanks.org or mail to: A Million Thanks c/o Lutheran High School, 2222 N. Santiago Blvd., Orange, CA 92867.