Summit Cove: Penpal network brings hope to soldiers
SUMMIT COVE The penpal network that motivated a Summit Cove third-grader to study could mean even more to the U.S. soldiers on the other end. When one is killed, they need to know someone back home cares, said Adopt a U.S. Soldier founder Ann Johnson. Letters are the most important thing you send.Snacks are great, she said, but the letters are something they can hold on to.The nonprofit organization that Johnson started out of Englewood four years ago today has blossomed to more than 200,000 supporters in about 76 countries. Johnson said the staff of 26 volunteers will be boosted by 10 when The Today Show airs its feature on Jacob Poehls, a third-grader from Summit Cove Elementary who gained motivation through the program to read and write. The feature is expected to air the morning of Feb. 12.Johnson began the organization when her son, Paul Johnson, was deployed with the U.S. Army in 2003. About three to five supporters are assigned per soldier, and letters are encouraged over e-mail.In many instances, as many as 600 soldiers will share one computer, she said. She said that with the wars controversy, it often seems to soldiers like most Americans really dont care.But the penpal network has made a difference. She said that one mother who received her sons final belongings discovered the soldier had a penpals letter on him when he was killed. It had obviously been reread many times, she said. That particular letter just spoke to him, Johnson said. Some of the soldiers dont receive any correspondence from their families. Its like gold for the soldiers truly, truly, she said. The website runs off donations and can be accessed at http://www.adoptaussoldier.org.
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