A local Brownie troop is tickled pink that their gift of leaves has travelled around the world to Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan.
Members of St. Albert’s 2nd Brownie troop (Pinedale district) recently got a letter from members of the Royal 22e Regiment in Afghanistan. The letter, which arrived about two weeks ago, was in response to 15 letters and maple leaves the Brownies sent them last year.
It all started when the troop invited Maj. John Beddows to speak on Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan prior to Remembrance Day. “They asked some really good questions and wanted to know what was going on,” says Beddows, whose daughter is in the troop.
The Brownies decided to write to the soldiers and thank them for their efforts, says troop leader Rosa Poulin. Each letter had a large red paper maple leaf stuck to the back.
Siara Gossen, 8, says she wrote about her cat, Buddy, and her two puppies. “They don’t really have snow like us,” she says, so she also wrote about riding a sled pulled by her dad’s snowmobile. “There’s a lot of stuff we do that they don’t do.”
Beddows took the letters to Lt. (Navy) Melanie Graham at the Edmonton Garrison, who arranged to have them sent to Afghanistan. From there, the letters eventually made it to Warrant Officer Harold Strul and his soldiers with 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion.
“I’m very pleased your troop has taken the time to send us these gifts,” Strul wrote in his letter back. “From all of us in Afghanistan, we wish all of you and your families a happy New Year.”
The soldiers also posed for a picture with one of the leaves.
The Canadian Forces don’t have a formal “write to the troops” program, Graham says, but will support ones created by the public. Past programs have sent quilts and dolls to the troops for distribution.
Initiatives like this give a big morale boost to troops in the field, says Beddows, who remembers receiving a similar Christmas card while serving in the Golan Heights in 1999. “It makes you feel good to be remembered,” he says. “We know why we do our jobs and we don’t ask to be thanked. We just want people to be Canadian.”
The troop was very surprised and excited to hear back from the soldiers, Poulin says, and got a kick out of the picture. “For the girls to see that, they were very, very honoured.”
Letters like these ones show soldiers that their nation is connected to them, Beddows says. “These young ladies did something that put a smile on somebody’s face in a place where there might not be a lot of smiles.”