Be sure to check this page often for all the good things happening at Books For Troops, Inc.
On April 7th, 2015, Congressman Paul Tonko joined with Phil Barrett, Supervisor of Clifton Park, and Kevin Tolliver, Supervisor of Halfmoon, gathered at the Clifton Park Town Hall. They presented Ellen Keegan, the Founder and Director of Books For Troops, Inc. a Proclamation from the US House of Representatives for her 5 years of "steadfast commitment" to our troops.
The Proclamation states Books For Troops, Inc.'s mission "to send care packages for the mind by providing a variety of books that help ease fears, loneliness, boredom and stress and also raise awareness of the sacrifices, both big and small, that our troops are making to protect our country."
From its first shipment of 10 boxes to Iraq in 2010, Books For Troops, Inc. now sends approximately 50 boxes per month to Iraq, Afghanistan, UAE, Africa, Japan and Korea as well as 28 VA hospitals across the US and to the Wounded Warriors Programs.
While it is a tremendous honor to have Books For Troops, Inc. recognized by Congressman Tonko and the US House of Representativies, the real honors that touch our hearts come from the humble e-mails, letters and cards that BFT often receives from the troops and their commanders thanking Books For Troops, Inc. for the difference in morale and quality of living that these books provide. They are truly "Medicine for the Mind." (anonymous inscribed on library in Thebes, Greece.) One such letter from CmSgt. Manuel Martinez sums it up best when he says that books provide "delight in moments of distress, calm in time of chaos, and diversion during downtime." Ellen often responds to these letters by saying, " While we mean to thank you, you are thanking us. These books are our pleasure."
To the House of Representatives and Congressman Paul Tonko, thank you for recognizing Books For Troops, Inc. as the source of comfort that it is to our troops and in so doing, raising awareness of our existence and our needs to continue our work.
Pictured above are (left to right) Supervisor Phil Barrett of Clifton Park, Supervisor Kevin Tolliver of Halfmoon, Amy Standaert, Councilwoman for Clifton Park, the flag sent from the Air Force Squadron in Afghanistan, Ellen Keegan, Director of Books For Troops, Inc., Lisa Plummer, Books For Troops volunteer and Congressman Paul Tonko.
In a letter dated February 20, 2015, Chief Master Sergeant Manuel Martinez, deployed on a special missions air force base in Afghanista, sent a letter stating the importance of boxes of books he and his airmen received from Books For Troops Inc. and how they acted as a reminder of "loving hearts and minds who care for the morale of our Air Commandos" He went on to say, "Thank to you for the books that bring delight in moments of distress, calm in time of chaos, and diversion during downtown."
Included with his letter was an American Flag that was flown in Books For Troops' honor on a combat mission over Afghanistan on February 28, 2015 on an AC-130-U 'Spooky' Gunship. The flag, as well as the certificate of authenticity, will be on display for all to see at the Clifton Park Town Hall in the lobby next to the collection box for donated books. This certificate was signed by CMS Martinez's major commander of the Airborn Squadron.
A second certificate was also included in the letter from the US Air Force, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Afghanistan signed by Colonel Christopher Ireland, the USAF commander. The letter stated: "In recognition of Books For Troops' selfless dedication and humble care for the morale and welfare of our Air Commandos."
This letter and countless others, as well as commendations from the leaders of the forces, tell Books For Troops, Inc. that we are making a difference in the state of mind of our deployed soldiers and of those injured in hospitals. To be reminded of this over and over by so many touching comments from the deployed is the reason why Books For Troops, Inc. struggles to continue to send their gifts of books.
Ellen Keegan, Director
The flag hanging in the Halfmoon Town Hall as described in the article will be used as a raffle to raise money for postage to send more books to more troops. This flag has hung in our town halls in Clifton Park, Halfmoon, and in our office in Latham. We were so honored to be given this sacred symbol of our freedom which our troops are sacrificing their lives to protect, that we decided to use it as a way to continue to honor them by giving it back to them in the form of more books for more troops. In essence we are "Paying it forward." We feel it is not our loss, but their gain and isn't that what Books for Troops is all about? Thanking the troops!
ITherefore, we will be raffling off this flag on July 15th. Raffle tickets are 3/$5.00 or 10 for $12.50, the cost for mailing a box of 35-40 books. To enter the raffle, you need to send your:
First and last name, your mailing address with zip code, your phone no.with area code and your e-mail if you have one. Include the number of tickets you want to buy and the amount enclosed to cover the purchase. Make the check out to Books for Troops and mail to Books for Troops, 152 Oak Brook Commons, Clifton Park, NY 12065. The winner will be notified on July 31st by phone, e-mail or mail. He/she will also be named on Facebook and on this website.
Kathleen Hartley and her co-workers at Knowles Atomic Lab have completed for the fifth year in a row, a spectacular book drive that yielded more than 2000 books. In addition she raised enough in donations to send those books and many more to our troops. She and her co-workers truly heard our constant statement that our donated books go nowhere without the postage to send them. All her books will be sent and books donated by many others. Many of her co-workers donated hard-covered books, not knowing we didn't need them. But we decided to change cherry pits into cherries and use them for a book sale sometime in the fall bringing in more money for more books to be sent. Kathleen we cannot thank you enough for your loyal support of Books for Troops, your sincere belief in our mission and all the smiles you have created for all those troops who need a reason to smile. God bless you for all that you have made possible through your belief in books as healers and your true concern for our troops. You are one in a million. Ellen Keegan
Books for Troops was honored and thrilled to receive recently from Iraq a Ceritficate of Achievement from Col. Tomothy Kehoe, Brigade Commander and Edward Russell, Brigade CSM "For your support while providing essential reading material to over 1000 soldiers and civilians at BDSC BAGHDAD, IRAQ. The dedication and commitment you've extended made your organization an outstanding asset to the THUNDERBOLT TEAM and gained the confidence of soldiers, leaders and civilians at all levels. Your relentless pursuit of excellence, dedication to duty and selfless service greatly contributed to the success of the command's mission. Your actions bring great credit upon your organization, the "THUNDERBOLT" brigade, and the UNITED STATES ARMY."
this plaque is shown below.
Comment from Books for Troops: We are honored and thrilled to receive this certificate that validates the importance of books in the field. It has always been our firm belief that books are a great source of escape and relaxation, as well as a means to lessen stress, anxiety, homesickness, boredom and fears. The troops through hundreds of e-mails, cards and letters have verified this. This certificate is another tangible validation by the leaders of these military men/women that books make a difference. However, we feel that we, the American people should be giving this certificate to the men/women who sacrifice so selfishly to protect us and keep our freedom safe. Each book we send is a meant to be a sign of that appreciation and a gift from hundreds/thousands of Americans who have donated books, postage, time and effort so that this precious gift for the mind reach them. We thank each and every deployed person/ their leaders, and the civilians that help them for all they are doing for us. To continue this work we must again ask for your donations of postage, puzzle books and DVD's to keep the boxes going to those who benefit the most.To do so, please contact Books for Troops at: Books for Troops, 152, Oak Brook Commons, Clifton Park, NY 12065 or email email@example.com. God bless our troops and God bless all of you. Ellen Keegan, director
Books For Troops, Inc. received an e-mail from Paintbox Press asking if we would be willing to accept 96 pop-up books of the Macy's Day parade to send to children of soldiers to "put smiles on their faces." Remembering a thank you note received from a soldier who'd gotten books from BFT, reminding us that the sacrifices made were not those of the troops alone, but of their families as well -- we immediately said YES to Paintbox Press's offer. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to thank the troops' families.
Books For Troops' volunteers and I had envisioned small, pop-up books for little children. However, when the books arrived in 8 very heavy boxes, we found they were NOT what we thought they'd be!
Unwrapping one of the carefully-wrapped 11x11 very dense books, we sat in awe at the truly beautiful artistic book that we received. There were 7 intricately structured pop-ups of marching bands, tall buildings with hanging clowns, a huge turkey, the dancing rockettes, and, of course, Santa, his sleigh and all his reindeer. The book entranced us as we knew it would every child and adult who received one.
I immediately notified three different troops -- one an airforce troop in Djibouti and two on naval ships in the Afghanistan waters -- describing the books that they could send to their children. Words could not even begin to describe how incredible the book was. Little interest was shown until each of the 3 troops received the book itself. Then, the names of children and their addresses, as well as words of gratitude from their deployed parent, came pouring in to us. Requests from troops for their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, little brothers and sisters -- and even one for an aunt who taught second grade -- flooded our email. Operation Paperback, and organization that has been a source of troops' addresses for us for many years, supplemented our lists with further names and addresses. Some of the troops even requested their own personal copy of the book and, of course, we obliged. We even received pictures from the airmen browsing through the book. The pictures radiated smiles that tells it all -- why Books For Troops, Inc. continues to send books to the troops and their families.
All the books have now been mailed out and we've already gotten some grateful responses back from the recipient families, as well as from one 4-year-old who made his own thank you card!
We feel very grateful that Paintbox Press chose us to send this happiness to our troops and their families. We are also grateful to Lindsay McGee, who coordinated the names from her airmen in Djibouti; Tyler Schisler on the USS Carl Vinson who did so on his ship; and Jonathan Stoetzer for his ship. Finally we are grateful for the author and illustrator of the book, Pamela Pease, whose imagination and skill created such an incedible book.
What an wonderfully "nice happening" this was for all of us at Books For Troops, Inc., for all the children and families of the troops who received the books, and for the troops themselves. Happy Thanksgiving to them all from myself and BFT volunteers Lisa Plummer, Barbara Piekarski, Dale Wade, Joanne Wildy and Nabell Saeed.
I'd like to note that, because of the special boxing and handling of the book and the considerable cost of mailing 96 copies, our budget was drastically reduced -- although we know that we couldn't have spent in a better way. However, if anyone would like to help with a donation so that we can rebuild our budget to send Christmas gifts to the troops, it would be greatly appreciated! Checks, payable to "Books For Troops, Inc." can be mailed to Books For Troops, Inc. , 152 Oak Brook Commons, Clifton Park, NY 12065.
Thank you for your great support, as always! Ellen R, Keegan, Director of Books For Troops, Inc.
David Boodram was 13 years old when I first met him. He asked me if he could do some community service to earn his badge to become an Eagle Scout. From the minute I met him, I felt his committment to truly provide help to our program and his true concern for the troops. Even after his service was completed, he continued to volunteer his time. His manner was always friendly and respectful. It was impossible not to like him.
One of the nicest things David did for the troops was to write a letter thanking them for the wonderful life he had because they were sacrificing so much to protect his way of life. He talked about his plans for the future and again thanked them for giving it to him. His letter was so sincere and so thoughtful that I continue to send copies of it in many of the packages I send to the troops. There have been many wondeful responses to this letter!
As David grew older, his reponsibilities became more numerous; his classload was harder, so I naturally saw less of him, but because of his letter I thought of him often. Last fall I was nicely surprised to hear from him. He asked me if I would like him to make some wooden bookcases for our office/library as his Eagle Scout project. I was honored that he chose Books For Troops and was thrilled with his thoughtfulness. He had remembered our awful, cheap plastic bookcases that necessitated the use of copy paper boxes to keep the books in them since they had no sides or backs. Our old bookcases were ugly, not uniform, but served the purpose on a very limited budget.
David proposed real bookcases with sides and backs, made out of real wood. He would do the design, all the planning, acquiring of materials and manpower. I agreed, never expecting the end product that was delivered. After several months of planning, acquiring donated materials, creating a workforce, and planning a design, David called to say that the weekend had come to measure, saw and varnish the bookcases.
He and his crew spent a weekend assembling what turned out to be 9 bookcases, 30" in width and 7 ft. in height. I was in awe when I saw our ugly basement office with no personality transformed into a warm, inviting library! The color of the bookcases was a rich golden brown that gave light to a dark basement. Their size allowed for many more books to be stored and we could do away with the xerox boxes.
The top of the shelves, so uniform, gave space for military displays and pictures and the "ugly duckling" of our office/library became a "beautiful swan", and a cozy, inviting place that was now a pleasure to work in, the perfect home for books waiting to be deployed!
David's idea to create a real library by using his talent, imagination, and desire to help the troops is certainly a very "nice happening" for Books For Troops, Inc. The bookcases are portable, so if we were to move to a different space, they can move right along with us. These bookcases have made the work of our volunteers so much easier and the workplace so much nicer. It has really made a huge difference to all of us. UPDATE; Since the bookcases were made we were able to move to a much more spacious office where the bookcases highlight one entire wall. They create a very functional and attractive professional look that we are proud to call home. Everyone that walks into our office compliments those bookcases created by a young man who really observed what we needed most and decided to fulfill that need.
David earned his merit badge and the gratitude and respect of all of us at Books For Troops, Inc. Our Thank you! Thank You! Thank You! David built, not only beautiful bookcases, but all the other hours you spent helping us get our books to the troops. You were a morale builder for both the troops and our team of volunteers. Thank you, David, for honoring us with your talent and your thoughtfulness!
In addition, as a complete surprise, David awarded Books For Troops, Inc. a plaque that stated in words that he had composed, that the bookcases were created:
"to assist in their [Books For Troops] outstanding efforts providing comfort in the
form of literature to our service men and women overseas."
I was overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness and understanding of of our purpose. David, having just graduated with honors from Shenendehowa High School, is moving with his family to Georgia where he will attend Valdosta State University. When they get settled, they promise to send us pictures of our "swan" of an office and pictures of the ceremony that we will post on this site.
To David: We at Books For Troops, Inc. wish you a very successful future. With the leadership qualities you have learned from your scouting career -- plus your honor, integrity and compassion your supportive and loving family has instilled in you -- and your own innate qualities of kindness and empathy, I am sure you will make a huge difference in the world around you!
On a personal note, to the Boys Scouts of America, David has taught me what an incredible organization BSA is, molding very young men into incredible, honorable, well-rounded adolescents with limitless futures. My respect to the Boy Scouts of America for the incredible amount of time, effort and energy they use to help create upstanding citizens. The organization is an inspiration!
Ellen Keegan, Director of Books For Troops, Inc.
E-mail sent to Books For Troops, Inc. from CPT Christopher G*****
We received another full box of books, DVD's and puzzle games today, complete with letters. I would like to say thank you to all that helped put this box together for my Soldiers.
I would like to give a very special thanks to a very supportive group of special 1st Graders from Mrs. [Amanda] Patten’s class. Your letters have been passed out to my Soldiers and they cannot thank you enough for all the nice things you had to say. I hope school is going good and I want you to know that my men and I are doing just fine, and we really appreciate all the support you give us. I have attached a picture of both platoons so you can see some of the Soldiers that received your letters. Once again thanks for all the support. Take care and have a great summer.
CMG, CPT, EN
570th SAPPER CO.
Camp Marmal, RC-North
Letter sent from 1LT Katie V*****
Dear St. Mary’s Academy 1st Graders,
Thank you so much for the coloring books and puzzles. As soon as the box opened, my Soldiers started knocking out the puzzles. Additionally, thank you for the cards. We appreciate the class’s support and generosity. It’s always nice to hear from everyone. I hope you all are enjoying the summer! I have included some pictures from our unit.
1LT Katie V*****
1LT Katie V***** is on bottom right hand side leaning on cabinet
Airman out to sea. Afghanistan.