Adopt a Troop: The Operation Shoebox story

I’m a huge fan of helping others when I can. I donate free marketing advice, but honestly, most people in need don’t need marketing- they need action. So on a recent trip to take my dog to the vet, I came across a flyer in their office for Operation Shoebox and was intrigued.

For those who aren’t familiar with the organization, Operation Shoebox sends care packages and gifts to active troops to spread good vibes and provide essentials that are on short supply. You can either make a one time donation that will go to an anonymous troop (a troop is a soldier in this case), or you can adopt a troop for the duration of their tour. The timing is perfect, with the holidays right around the corner and for me personally, being in a place where I’m trying to find a good fit in all things (professional, personal, charitable).

In addition to working with a group of local (and national) internet marketers, bloggers, and social media peeps to put together packages for 50 troops, I’ve adopted three soldiers of my own to support. Lucky for me, I’ve met some amazing people throughout my online marketing journey who are willing to lend support and sponsorship. While the deadline is still a few weeks away, I’ve already gotten word from the following amazing companies that they’d like to be involved:

  • XShot (particularly Michael): Before I could even finish the please on my sentence, Michael jumped on board with a wonderful gift- 50 XShots for our troops! For those not in the know, XShots are extendable camera attachments for both digital and video cams that allow you to record and take photos of yourself. For those with horrible self-portrait skills like me, or with short arms like…well, me too, these things are GREAT and easy to use. You can pick one up here (NOT an affiliate link, just lots of love): http://xshotpix.com/buy-now.php.

 

  • Pingo (thanks to Brian): An inconvenient expense for our soldiers is communication. While they have access to the Internet, wouldn’t you rather hear your loved one’s voice sometimes? Pingo is making that possible with a donation of 200 (yes, TWO HUNDRED) international calling cards for our troops to use. They also have great deals if you want to pick up a card for your upcoming travels, or to donate in addition for Operation Shoebox. Thank you again to Brian Hawkins and the friendly Pingo.com crew!

 

  • BenSpark.com family: As if they haven’t done enough for me, Drew, Allison, and Eva Bennett are bringing smiles on a daily basis. In addition to providing some essential social media insights and entertaining blog posts, the Bennett family has become part of my own family with their warmth, love, support, and kindness. Their kid is pretty darn cute, too (the only one with her own hashtag, #Evaboo)! Drew and Allison are so modest, the site ImNotAFamousBlogger.com is run by Drew and should really be renamed as he is one of the top bloggers in the industry. Allison also covers her journeys and lends her social media and blogging talents to SocialSparky.com, as well as being a tradeshow spokesmodel for BenSpark.com and IZEA. Thanks for essentials for the troops, guys!

 

  • ChattyGal: Deb Schroeder is a force to be reckoned with. She stormed onto the blogging scene this year, kicking !@# and taking names in a video contest for a trip to Blogworld. ChattyGal covers everything from health and beauty to tech tools, all in a fun, conversational manner. ChattyGal’s friendly demeanor has also won the hearts of sponsors who have added some much needed supplies to our care packages. Thanks to ChattyGal Deb, and Tim- who runs an insanely educational blog and design forum, by the way!

 

  • Quaker/ Gatorade: I know absolutely no one personally at Quaker, but they have hundreds of delicious products that are convenient for shipping purposes, staying fresh for the journey overseas. I sent an email with little to no hope of getting a positive response (most companies are cutting back on all donations), but got an almost immediate answer- and it was wonderful news! Quaker is donating several Gatorade vouchers for troops to use at their retail stations. Not only did this make it easier for our packagers (bottles aren’t too compact), but it will be a relief for our soldiers as well- now they can choose their flavors and product type. Thank you again to the team at Quaker and Gatorade for the ridiculously fast, extremely supportive feedback.

 

I’ll be adding more information on our sponsors as they are confirmed. If you’d like to get involved with Operation Shoebox, leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help you adopt a troop or get care packages together.

What’s With the Free !@#$ Newbie?!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me about it. I know- it’s a no no. Rockin a wordpress original template. Me?!

Well you know what I’ve got to say to your unspoken thought? GET OVER IT! This is only temporary. I’m working on a design, and an official site, and about 132,003 other tasks, so I promise I won’t hurt your virgin eyes too much longer with my faux pas. This blog is about content anyway, so be happy with the pretty little words and expect big changes soon(ish).

If you’ve stumbled here some how, it’s probably because you know me- in which case, you don’t care if I wrote my post on a paper bag, twitpic’d it, and social mediaized it for all time. If for some reason, you don’t know me though, you’re just going to have to trust me. Or stop visiting. OK, fine, don’t do that, I’ll still be posting regularly. I’m a master of many things, but design is not one of them, so you’re going to have to wait.

Thank you for your patience!

Orlando Food and Wine Festival

I missed out on EPCOT’s Food and Wine Fest this year due to my insane travel schedule, but luckily, the lushes at Lake Eola have provided me with a second (more economical) opportunity to stuff my face and get tipsy.

I’ll be heading downtown two days in a row (the weekend pass was only $15) to get my festival on with my buddies including Orlando expert Ashley Edwards, social media maven & lady baller Colleen Burns , KnowCancer founder (forum for those affected by cancer) and amazing online entrepreneur Ben Rudnick, web design and video master James Pero, search superstar Claudia Espejo and hopefully a few others. Between the group of us, we can start a social media army. Now THERE’S an idea.

I really love the local events scene, it’s a nice change of pace from the theme park tragedy that is Lake Buena Vista. I’ve missed out on some great concerts, comedians, and annual theme park passes to check out some smaller, lesser known festivals near me. It’s (almost) always worth it to take a risk and try something new. EPCOT’s not going anywhere any time soon. If any other Orlando locals want to share their knowledge of upcoming activities, I’d love to hear about it. I usually take my recommendations from the Pulse of Central Florida, but I’d love to get some additional thoughts on what’s new in central Florida. Besides, Ashley’s out of town until Friday. So speak up!!!

My Four-Legged Family

TeddySince they’ve never formally been introduced, meet my dogs.

This is Teddy also known as Monkey for his ability to jump across rooms and swing from rope toys- a yorkie, possibly also part schnauzer, I rescued him from a puppy mill! Not personally, but that’s where he came from. He loves puppy play time, and eventually I will organize a doggie tweetup (don’t laugh…fine, you’re doing it anyway aren’t you?) on his behalf. Just don’t bring any kids or bikes- for some reason, he’s not a fan.

Reese

Meet Reese aka the Monster. She’s a beagle-something-something-something mix. Your guess is as good as mine. Pointer? Great Dane? Moose? I don’t know, but all 60 lbs of her are super cute- even after the vet assured me she wouldn’t be bigger then 20-30 lbs. Oops- doesn’t matter. Even though she eats my shoes, walls, clothes, her own toys, books, magazines, food, roommate, pillows, furniture, and everything in between, she is such a sweetheart.

Rosie and DaisyLast but not least, my first two puppy loves, Rosie (left and named after the Jetson’s character) and Daisy (right). My family refers to them as my ‘sisters’ which is pretty insulting for all parties, but at least they’re cute…so it’s kind of a compliment. Right?

A Change Will Do You Good

While I absolutely love the people I work with, the time has come for me to try something new. I’m still going to be a significant presence at the office, and will continue to work with the company as needed, but I felt like it was a good time to try and work on some new projects and long-awaited ideas.

I’m so excited to be working with new people on new projects, but it’s a bit scary. I know I’ll always have a job, but can I have a business? Working for yourself is, I imagine, a rollercoaster ride. While you set your own schedule, take on your choice of projects, and are your own boss, you also don’t:

Have a stable income, a team- when starting out at least, or in my case, a solid sense of the future. While I’ve freelanced part time before, this time it just feels different. I’m hoping it’s a small step towards something huge. Who knows? Maybe a year from now I’ll have my interns or an assistant read me back this post- ok, I’m just kidding. I’ll probably be too busy on my private jet. 🙂

What have your experiences been with starting your own business? Did you take the leap with or without preparations (both financial and emotional)? Did you exceed your expectations? Share in the comments!

It’s Official- I’m a Blogger

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been in the blogosphere for more than two years…but never had my own blog. How is that possible, you ask?

Well after several years of video blogging as part of my position as Marketing and Social Media Manager at MarketLeverage, and commenting daily on almost every industry blog, one of the last things I wanted to do when leaving the office was write MORE and share MORE. Fortunately for me, and possibly unfortunately for you, I’ve freed up some room in my schedule to be able to share random thoughts and ideas I have here- and a few other places (stay tuned for those). So welcome officially to my blog, and please excuse it’s appearance. I’m just getting started and promise to have to great designs, features, and guests to come.

Happy reading!