Tuesday, October 04, 2005
  US Soldier is "Sole" Provider
From the Toledo Blade:

"When Bowling Green State University student Erin Vader decided to "adopt" an American soldier stationed in Iraq, she thought she'd just be writing him letters.
Instead, her pen pal's sole request - to send shoes for him to give to the Iraqi children he met - turned into a full-time project. Ms. Vader, 19, estimates several thousand pairs of shoes have been shipped to Sgt. Gilbert Zepeda through his "Soles for Souls" project.
"When I first got this soldier, I figured it was just writing letters, and within a week I had this huge project," Ms. Vader said. "I had to do it, though. I couldn't not send him the only thing he asked for...
After asking for help from churches in Ohio and Michigan, the response just multiplied. Student organizations, scouting groups, motorcycle groups, and others jumped on board when they heard about it.
"Ed McKay, owner of the Mail Vault in Sylvania, read about Ms. Vader's efforts in The Blade and called her up to offer to ship the shoes to Iraq and to serve as the Toledo-area drop-off point for shoe donations.

So, to my Argentinian "friend," Anonymous, who asked, "Do you think that your country is the best country of the World?" Yes, I do, and this is why. Because we are the best country in the world, and we have the best military in the world. Not because of our high-tech weapons or superior training. Because we have the best, most compassionate and benevolent troops in the world supported by the best citizens in the world. Period.

Man, I'm proud to be an American, and nothing is EVER going to take that away from me. God bless America, our troops, and our President!
Hi. I'm Erin Vader, I just read this while I was working on collecting stories about our project for a research paper for someone else. Very cool. Thanks for the compliments. By the way, the project is over. Gil is back on American soil, and we collected upwards of 7,000 pairs of shoes from 25 states in a matter of months. :) It went well. Thanks for the support.

Erin Vader
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Location: alexandria, Virginia, United States

Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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