In Depth: Girl starts letter writing campaign for troops

By Christine Webb, Web Anchor
Last Updated: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
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A young woman has started a movement to help our troops.

Savannah's Soldiers is an organization started back in South Florida back in 2011. It was created by then 10-year-old Savannah Maddison as a way to show appreciation to our service personnel.

Maddison, who is a student from the Fort Lauderdale area, joins us in studio to explain her organization.

CHRISTINE WEBB: First of all I want to thank you for being here. So tell us more about your organization and why you decide to start it?

SAVANNAH MADDISON: It's a letter writing campaign. I started it all for my best friend Wilson whose dad was over in Afghanistan. We decided we wanted to do something to help out and letter writing kind of came up, and we thought that's good, that's easy and a lot of people can get involved that way. So, we started writing, I would get the whole neighborhood around the kitchen table, and all the kids we would write and draw pictures. Our goal was one soldier per month. Then we found out there were about 700 soldiers, so that was a crazy big goal. So we just kept trying and trying and trying until it got bigger and bigger and we have collected 85,000 letters since then. We partnered with the Miami Heat, the Marlins, Donald Trump's professional golf tour, the Dallas Mavericks, the Red Sox. It's just gotten really crazy!

CW: Have you just been blown away at how big this has gotten?

SM: It's been awesome, it's been really fun to watch.

CW: I want you to share one of the stories that has really touched your heart.

SM: I actually just had the pleasure to talk to Command Sgt. Richardson, who got my letters in Afghanistan. He said he would give them to his soldiers and they would give them back with tape and say they will make them their wall paper. So when they walked in the morning to eat breakfast, they would see the letters and everyone would get the opportunity to read them. So that was really cool.

CW: So, what's next?

SM: Our goal is 100,000 letters. We are currently at about 86,000, so that's big for us. We have an art competition and we have a scholarship, $1,000 for four winners and that's going to be really cool. And all the information for that is going to be on my website SavannahsSoldiers.com.

CW: What do you hope the soldiers walk away with when they are getting your letters?

SM: Our goal is to distract them from the moment they are in and give them some peace in this bad environment. So they can read something saying a kid is encouraging them and that they are supported and loved and give them a moment of, this is awesome, this is really cool.

CW: And you also have a national day?

SM: I do. That was a huge goal of ours. We announced it last year. Now we have national Savannah's Soldiers Day. One of my goals is to have every single school stop and write letters on that day, which will be really cool.

CW: What can people do who wants to write letters?

SM: I'd love it if they could get their schools and churches to get involved. You can also go to our website and write and I can print them out.

CW: You are very mature and grown up for a 13-year-old. I think you are proving people wrong.

SM: Thank you so much. I definitely believe that anyone could make a difference.