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Operation Write Home sends one-millionth card to troops | Founder credits social media
Operation Write Home (OWH), a project started by Federal Way resident Sandy Allnock, hit a significant milestone last month.
The group sent its one-millionth letter to deployed U.S. troops. Started in 2007 as a way for Allnock and her group of crafts friends to help support American troops, OWH has expanded into a non-profit organization that includes thousands of people from across the country, includes its own website, Facebook and Twitter pages. OWH has also inspired three different blogs.
Allnock, who holds a full-time job at World Vision as a graphic designer while pulling duty as OWH president, said the rapid expansion of her simple idea has been astounding.
“We just hit a half-million cards in August of 2010,” she said. “It took us two and a half years to get the first half-million, and less than a year to get the second half-million. Now we’re racing to see how fast we can get to the second million. It’s gotten a lot bigger than I ever expected.”
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been one of the biggest springboards for OWH’s success, Allnock said. OWH’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/opwritehome) currently has 6,689 “likes.” The organizations Twitter page (www.twitter.com/opwritehome) has more than 1,000 followers.
“Social media has absolutely helped. Just more and more people are sharing with their friends and getting more people involved,” she said.
OWH members make hand-crafted cards for troops overseas to write home. For crafters and non-crafters, the experience of creating these mementos is rewarding, Allnock said. For the servicemen and women and their families, the letters become something much more than just a piece of paper.
“There have been stories we’ve heard about little kids who carry the cards to school in their bag, they want to carry mom or dad with them,” Allnock said. “Or, they want the card to be read to them every night before they go to bed.”
Allnock described a story she heard where a tornado hit a town. Two little girls in the town were asked by their grandmother to run and get their important things. The girls grabbed their OWH letters, she said, and their Barbie dresses.
Allnock says visiting the website (www.operationwritehome.org) or social media sites is the best way to become involved with OWH. Allnock also offered a bit of advice for those who want to start their own group like OWH: “The best thing is to target what you want to do and focus like a laser on that thing. Just do one thing, and learn how to do it well.”