- The Washington Times - Friday, November 5, 2010


The election is over, and even as politicians and pundits prepare for the battle ahead, two small organizations are already gearing up for a January fight. While the political fights ahead have the potential to influence millions in future generations, this fight will impact hundreds, though in a more profound way.

The field is being set between now and January. While politics will continue, many will set aside partisanship for the holidays. One area that will see this more than any other is service to our wounded troops. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, they will receive a torrent of celebrity visits, holiday parties, special events and more. It can be overwhelming, but it shows the care and compassion that is America.

However, on Jan. 2, that torrent abruptly cuts off. As overwhelming as it may have been, the sudden silence can take ordinary post-holiday blues and make them something much worse. Gina Elise, who founded the charity Pin-Ups for Vets, decided something needed to be done. She has joined with another small charity, Cooking With the Troops, to fight those blues for the U.S. and Allied troops, families and caregivers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Gina raises money to improve physical, cognitive and rehabilitation therapy for those who have served their country in any war. She does this by re-creating World War II-style pinups for calendars, selling those and donating the proceeds to these causes. By the time the year ends, her project will have donated $50,000.

Cooking With the Troops combines two food-related efforts into something more. Building on the barbecues done by Bob Miller at Walter Reed Army Medical Center since 2005, the organization not only offers an expanded range of food events, but is adding culinary career assistance, front-line support and home-front support as well.

To help the wounded, ill and injured fight the post-holiday blues, Gina will be making visits and giving away calendars. Cooking With the Troops will be sending veteran and chef Ellen Adams to cook a special meal for 150 or so. Veteran and author Michael Z. Williamson will be making visits and signing autographs, and Baen Books, a small but potent publisher that has been a long-standing supporter of our troops, will be providing books for him to give away.

No one involved is wealthy or qualifies as a large company or organization. Instead, the partnership reinforces a key point: Individuals and small groups working together can do great things and make profound changes in the world.

With help, those small efforts and organizations can grow and make even more profound changes to the good of the world by helping the individual. With your help, we can reach beyond Landstuhl. The holidays are fast approaching, and it is already time to think beyond them. Plan ahead, and let’s beat the post-holiday blues before they can hit those who already have given so much.

Working with smaller organizations and efforts lets you target your donation more precisely and gives you the added advantage of being sure that more of your donation goes to the effort. It lets you reward those who use best practices and helps them grow into even better organizations. If not this effort, find organizations and efforts that match your beliefs and can give you more bang for your buck.

It is time to set aside our differences and come together to fight a common enemy for those who already have fought our real and potent foe. Join with us, and join with the other small organizations that are making a difference.

C. Blake Powers is chief executive officer of Cooking With the Troops.

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