I predicted the end of NFTT long, long before the mission really was completed. I never thought Kossacks would open up their wallets so wide year after year, that people would pack boxes in the middle of a convention year after year. And I never dreamed that people would complain about getting there too late to get a box to pack - but they did.
Long, long ago there was a Kossack who made a name for herself knowing about Care Packages, what they should contain, and how they needed to be sent. She also knew how much they were appreciated by those who got them. I was convinced that if she would demonstrate what she knew at Yearly Kos [predecessor to NetRoots Nation], more people would send those packages. About the same time a group of the most compassionate and respected writers on the intertubes were working on the same idea. That's IGTNT. Within days the gang at Mojo Friday got involved.
Suddenly we were an ad hoc deciding to send 100 packages to the troops. When the original Care Package Kossack had to drop out, IGTNT's own Roses stepped up. She lived in Austin where the next Yearly Kos was to take place. After the Flying Spaghetti Monster's butt print, more tales, some kudos, and one big regret . . .
Over the last 5 years some remarkable people did remarkable things to make NFTT an event at the Conventions everyone seemed to enjoy, they tell me. 2008 - Austin - Our first organizer bowed out at the last minute and Roses stepped up. She had a garage and since we were focused filling those packages with stuff people donated, all of which would have to make it's way to the Convention Center, Roses decided that people could ship their stuff to her. That decision cost her 2 months of work time and income, the use of her garage, and her livingroom, and most of her dining room. Then it became an enormous task to get all of it to the convention center. Somehow, she did it. Then she organized it. Roses invented the whole packing operation with the help of everyone she could shag and drag in to give a hand. John Hobbs did anything asked of him and kept her from totally losing her mind.
While Roses' house and garage were being filled, Bill in Portland Maine promoted Care Packages at Cheers and Jeers. The money raised went for the purchase of pre-paid shipping boxes through the US Postal Service. The old Mo-Jo Friday crew worked right along with them.
2009 Pittsburgh required significant changes. NFTT was forced to purchase everything in quanity, and have it drop shipped to the Convention Center. That required a lot of cash to raised and wisely spent. That's when the huge burden of raising that money fell to the organizer of the fundraising diaries. The wonderful Donnamarie served in that capacity for Pittsburgh and in 2010 for Las Vegas. She was followed by our much beloved Onomastic. Ono handled Minneapolis in 2011 and shared those duties in 2012 with the incomparable Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse. None of us can understand or appreciate how much stress the three of them endured to get their jobs done and done so well.
Throughout the entire time that NFTT raised money for Care Packages, people showed up to organize the contents for packing at Eclectablog's direction, and still more came to pack, TexDem played ringmaster. He made deals for discounts on products working with Walgreens and Mechanix Gloves to make sure our Care Packages contained stuff the troops could really use and appreciate.
The secret to why those Mechanix Gloves, and this year the clothes bags, were part of the Care Package is that I asked returning troops what they needed. Before Austin 2 Sergeants from a Rock Falls, Illinois National Guard unit told me about Mechanix Gloves. Then, while waiting for my delayed flight back to Portland, another Sergeant and I were having a smoke at O'Hare. I asked him the same question. He told me that their dirty clothes were sent off to be washed in the only clothes bag supplied by the military. Until they got their clothes back, the dirty laundry just piled up. He had asked his mother for a second one a couple of times, but never got one. Sometimes it's the little things that say, "People back home really appreciate your service and actually care about you." It's what NFTT has been all about.
Me, well, I gave money and moral support as did so many others. I even served on the Board of Directors. Next year will be my first shot at attending a NetRoots Nation Convention. It will also be the first time since 2008 that there will be no Care Packages to pack. That's my big regret. I have been told repeatedly that it will also be the first time in more than a decade we will not have any troops serving in harms way. That is the huge comfort, relief, and signal that at last we can stand down.
The title of this diary comes from an e-mail response I got from one of the Rock Falls Sergeants. I wanted him to see the pictures people put up after the Austin event. I wanted him to know that we really did send 100 packages and they each contained multiple pairs of Mechanix Gloves. His response was:
Care Packages [NFTT] - sumthin' libruls got rightIndeed we did. I hope in the comments you will share pictures and memories of all the good so many people produced for far longer than I ever thought possible. Thank you, each and every supporter, donor, volunteer, and Liberal. You are good people, and I am proud of you.