Holidays for Heroes: an act of kindness gone viral in 2019. We’re proud to share the story of how our CEO and dozens of anonymous donors sent over 60 military service members home to celebrate the holidays with loved ones.
In the spirit of the holiday season, donors band together to send over 60 military service members home, launching the first year of Holidays for Heroes. Here is how it all happened.
It all started with a five-sentence LinkedIn post on Saturday, November 30, 2019. Our CEO, Ed Roshitsh, offered to send five active duty military home for the holidays by paying for their airfare.
Knowing the financial burden travel can put on military families and being a veteran himself, Ed wanted to do what he could to give back. Military members (and their families) sacrifice so much for us to go about our everyday lives and this small gesture would give five families the gift of being together for the holidays.
Ed waited… and waited... and waited. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon (nearly 18 hours since publishing the post!) that he began receiving responses. Soon, there were messages coming in from every corner of the internet with shares of his original post in the thousands. While some were requesting names of loved ones to be added to the hat, an overwhelming number of strangers stepped forward to ask how they could help.
The post continued to attract attention over the next 48 hours. So many military members’ names were submitted that Ed decided to throw their names in a “hat” and scheduled a live drawing to select the winners. Over 20 additional roundtrip flights were pledged by anonymous donors – a number that continued to rise. The initial drawing sent 25 service members home for the holidays… but that wasn’t the end. By the following Saturday – seven days since the original post – 60 military members were sponsored to travel home thanks to the help of generous donors.
Our local news caught wind of this act of kindness gone viral and Ed’s interviews were picked up nationwide. As more and more people heard his story, they wanted to know how to help and contribute to his cause. Thank you ABC 11 & CBS 17 for telling this remarkable story!
Coordinating flights for 60 people could have been a logistics nightmare. Luckily for Ed, Andrew Appleton, Travel Director with MilitaryTravel Agent, saw his post and offered to connect the service members and donors and manage the process for booking flights.
Thanks to Andrew’s support, 60 service members representing every branch of the military were matched with a donor. In just a few days, these military members were en route to spending the holiday season with their families. And in case you were wondering, the furthest flight originated in Okinawa, Japan.
Some of the families came together and created a Kudoboard for Ed, the donors and Andrew. Others took to social media to share snapshots of their loved ones coming home and to thank those who assisted in making it possible (here and here). Talk about “all the feels!"
Looking ahead, Ed wants to make this a recurring yearly activity, with a goal of making it better and bigger.
Once donors were matched, flights were booked and life resumed to a normal pace, Ed shared the following on LinkedIn, “We are hoping to get 100+ service members home in 2020 with an easier, more centralized way to give any donations and sponsor trips." See more of his closing thoughts and plans for the future here and here.
One more round of “thank yous” to everyone involved in making this possible!
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