Read the surprising, hilarious, blunt, yet sweet letters kids write to the military.
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“Imagine that you worked in an office building, and you couldn’t leave it for weeks at a time.”

Ensign Christine Conlon says, "That’s what it feels like to be deployed on a Navy ship."

The USS Ross in port at Souda Bay, Greece. Photo by Spc. 1st Class Theron J. Godbold/Released/U.S. Navy.


Conlon works aboard the USS Ross, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer (think three pegs in Battleship) stationed off the south coast of Spain. Every season, the USS Ross and its inhabitants are deployed on a four-month patrol in and around the Mediterranean area.

During those deployments, life at sea becomes pretty boring, pretty fast.

So a letter like this can often make someone's day:

All letters courtesy of Ensign Nick Tsusaki/U.S. Navy.

The letter reads:

Dear Service Member,
Thank you for risking your life for my community. I'm so thankful for what you're doing. Earlier we wrote about how we were brave. I said I let my sister get KFC instead of me getting Taco Bell. That's nothing compared to what you do. I can't say thank you enough. My great uncle was in the military. It would be great if you would write back. I appreciate your courage and sacrifice. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.
Sincerely,
Your biggest fan,
Destiny



Sailors may be at sea for several weeks at time, so once they've read, watched, and played everything they brought with them on deployment, entertainment can be pretty scarce.

"We really value the small things," Conlon says. “When you get a package and it’s got a new nail polish or new movies, and you can say ‘All right, I’ll set aside time to do this on Wednesday,’ it gives you something to look forward to.”

The enthusiasm for correspondence is universal. “It’s a delight to get mail,” says Ensign Nick Tsusaki, who works alongside Conlon on the Ross. “Everybody looks forward to getting mail.”

In addition to correspondence from family and friends, military personnel receive thousands of letters and packages from strangers — including from kids.

Letters like this one:

Dear Soldier,
Thak you for prtekteg us. I am in 1st grad but I know a lot.
from Juliette.

Back home in the States, community organizations frequently run letter-writing campaigns and package donations for service members overseas. Every time there's a mail delivery, personally addressed packages are accompanied by hundreds of letters and cards from citizens around the country.

The anonymous mail often offers a brand of levity that’s entirely its own — particularly when kids are the letter writers.

“It makes your day getting these little kids’ cards. I usually scan through the package for bad handwriting ‘cause that’s how you know they’re gonna be funny. Kids really do say the darndest things,” Tsusaki laughs.

Dear Soldier,
Hello! I hope you are well. Thank you for fighting for us. My favorite thing is soldier. I love soldier. Are you okay? Well I feel happy for you.
Love,
Kinley


The messages often reveal that the kids have little clue what goes on overseas, but they understand that the sailors and soldiers are far from home and could use a little love.

Dear Soldier,
Thank you for risking your lives for other people. I'm sorry if your friends died. I appreciate everything you do for the country.
Your new friend, Michael.

“Even when it’s crazy stuff, like ‘I hope you don’t die’ or ‘Thank you for giving your blood for me,’ stuff like that, it’s still nice to get something that someone took some time to do,” says Lt. j.g. Sean Mansfield.

“And it’s a good conversation starter for five hours of night watch when you’re standing alone with somebody in the dark,” adds Tsusaki.

Dear Soldier,
Thank you for fighting for our country. You are our hero. I know it is scary. I wish I can help you but I am a kid.

Whether the packages contain something funny or something touching, it’s clear that handwritten notes have an amazing ability to make an impact.

Out at sea, sailors aren't totally disconnected — they're still able to email family and chat online with friends. But it's not quite the same as a card or letter handwritten in the mail.

"It’s nice to get a text saying, 'hey man, you’re the best,'" says Mansfield, "But mail just takes a significantly higher level of care and concern. You know that someone thought about what you wanted, put it in a box, wrote the address, drove it to the post office. You know that person really cares."

Conlon sums it up in a sentence: "It's just nice to know someone was thinking about you."

Want to send a card or letter of your own? You can write to a soldier online via the USO or visit A Million Thanks to learn more about sending physical letters and packages. Your contribution is always appreciated.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

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Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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