What began as a flight attendant’s commitment to write to one soldier on deployment has grown into an operation involving two Mercer Island schools and people across America.
Robin Schmidt, known as the “Sky Angel,” was working on a Civil Reserve Air Fleet charter flight, full of soldiers, only a few months after 9/11. She passed a plaque around the plane for soldiers to sign their names so that she could pray for them on their deployment. One soldier joked, would Schmidt ‘adopt’ him while he was overseas? She then began writing and sending care packages, and has ‘adopted’ soldiers serving overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, each year since then.
And then, there were the journals. Schmidt got permission from Delta Airlines to ask her flight passengers to write personal messages in a journal, to be sent along with a care package to soldiers. Two journals would be passed around the plane during each flight.
A former Island resident, Schmidt moved back to Seattle last year from Kentucky. She is currently overseeing the fifth annual “Mail Call For Our Heroes” and has the participation of three local schools.
“I truly don’t want any of our service members to feel alone on the battlefield or when they return home,” she said.
Islander Middle School and Eastgate Elementary students wrote cards for the troops, and West Mercer held a special parade in honor of Veterans Day on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 8.
“Our soldiers marched for us, so today we are marching for them,” West Mercer Principal Rich Mellish said to the crowd of students, teachers and parents.
In the school hallway there were stacks of cards, snacks, books, dog treats, toiletries, socks, and frisbees personally signed by the kids. The packages will be sent to a National Guard unit in Afghanistan, a Marine unit at Camp Leatherneck, Combat Surgical Hospital at Bagram Airfield and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and AT&T calling cards will be sent to the 101st Airborne “Dustoff” unit.
“I prayed for an abundance and I got absolute abundance,” Schmidt said. “The beauty of it is the abundance didn’t come in money, but the abundance came in the form of supplies.”
The shipment deadline, in order for troops to receive the packages before Christmas, is Nov. 13.
“I’m blessed that the school has gotten so involved — this is so amazing,” Schmidt said, noting the magnitude of West Mercer’s donations.
Early this week, Schmidt’s tally of letters, cards and notes received was 2,146. With an estimated 1,000 cards still to come from Islander Middle School, Schmidt was more than halfway toward meeting her goal of 4,000.
Schmidt has also mailed treats and Christmas decorations, and two Christmas trees. Recently, she spent a day with eight girlfriends making 75 dozen cookies and 15 pounds of fudge to send overseas.
Other donations were received from friends — and strangers — all over the country who saw Schmidt’s Facebook posts or visited her website.
“People from all over are sending me cards,” she said. “The troops are going to love it all.”
For more information, go to Schmidt’s website at www.alwayssupportourheroes.com.