Well here we are once again. A scant six weeks after the starter's pistol cracked and this is how things at Let's Bring Em Home turned out this year. As of this morning there are 138 tickets completed; 27 of which were international tickets -- average cost $1,352.76 -- headed to/from destinations in Philippines, China, Germany, Korea, and Japan. The three most expensive tickets were: Colorado to Philippines ($2083.41), Alaska to the US Virgin Islands ($2,130.29), and Florida to China ($2,285.59). The remaining 111 domestic flights -- average cost $692.77 -- went to various points in 33 of the 50 states.
And while they earn the smallest paycheck, the very lowest on the military food chain (E1s) tend to be the most difficult to help since they are either still in Basic Military Training or in Technical School learning their job and have rather inflexible schedules. Likewise E2s tend to be at the lower end of the totem pole and are usually the ones tasked with working over the holidays. Thusly the tickets were dispersed as follows: E1 (4 - 4 domestic, 0 international), E2 (16 - 16 domestic, 2 international), E3 (54 - 38 domestic, 16 international), E4 (64 - 55 domestic, 9 international).
We had 12 individuals donate a total of 780,500 frequent flier miles, which were used to purchase 17 hard-to-book tickets. We received a grand total of $119,516.37 in donations, from 710 different kind hearted souls. The largest single monetary donation was $25,000 -- yes, you read that correctly, twenty-five thousand dollars -- sent in by the wonderful people over at Optinet.TV in Florence, Alabama. This single donation was enough to completely fund 21 of the 27 international ticket requests! A HUGE thanks to Mitch Wade and the rest of his crew!
But those of you without $25k in your pocket to spare, do not fret nor be discouraged, for I can honestly tell you that every donation counts. Three people donated $5, twenty people donated $10, and one person donated $11 -- individually perhaps not enough to spread too much Christmas cheer but when combined? Well, that was enough to purchase the $223.10 airfare to fly a Sailor from her base in Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One, Williamsburg, Virginia, to be with her family in Chicago, Illinois. Did you chip a $20 bill into the pot? You're in good company; so did you and 48 other people, so your combined $980.00 flew an Airman from Eielson AFB, Alaska to Roanoke, Virginia. There are more stories like this, but since I'm sure you have things to do, I'll highlight just one more.
In late October LBEH was approached by an employee of AT&T who offered, "First off, let me say I love what you guys are doing. Thank you for this project. I work for AT^&T and we're putting together a campaign this year called “Spread the Cheer” asking employees the question “what would you do with an extra $1,000 to brighten someone's holiday?” Then we pick a handful of these ideas and make them come true. One of the ideas submitted was yours. So I'm writing to see if we were to select this idea, if you could help us identify the soldier and potentially even help us schedule the travel? We're not technically working with “charities” on this because of a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, so I can't promise you exposure for your great work. I can only promise that one more soldier will get to come home. Just hoping you might be dialed in to where there is need (in the NY/NJ area specifically as we want the employee who suggested this to be a part of the story) Thanks and please let me know if you think you'll be able to help. And again SO happy you guys are out there doing what you do."
It ended up being six weeks in the making, with LBEH working very hard behind the scenes to put everything together without spoiling the surprise, but with AT&T's assistance we were able to pull off this. It's a nice video, professionally done, and really hits home. It, along with a couple more and a handful of homecoming photos are available on our Facebook page -- you really deserve to look some of them over and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
So as LBEH 2015 comes churning to a close, I'd like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who donated, to everyone who wears the uniform, and of course to Kathryn Barns and Elizabeth (Bibi) Montgomery, without whose tireless efforts the entity that is LBEH would most certainly wither up and die.
So until next year, your humble servant in return, Ernie
Hey Ernie, In response to Jared's challenge, the new high score for this year's You'll Shoot Your Eye Out challenge has just been raised to 9,751,081. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals. -Dave
First time I've gotten close - 9,805,543! Jon
Ernie, Took a couple of days, but this is my best so far - 9,909,685 Scott
Here's my submission for high score - 9,995,683. Robbie
CORRECTION:Sorry Robbie, it's the highest FINAL score.... you've still got 2 BBs left to shoot without rolling your score over. So unless someone comes in and steps on
Robbie's SCOTT'S toes at the last minute, it looks like SCOTT is going to walk away with the Don't Shoot Your Eye Out crown this year! And because they're too good to have missed... Old and busted: Glengarry Glenn Ross Christmas motivation. The new hotness: Glengarry Glenn Ross Christmas lights.
And please, as you drive around to visit friends and family tomorrow, remember your travels will take you into other people's neighborhoods. So please be a good sport and respect the special parking restrictions that are in place over the holidays, okay? Thank you. Now quick, quick, like a bunny: