Everyone is facing obstacles in their life, especially right now, but the American Legion Auxiliary’s focus is still committed to helping veterans, the military, and their families. Many Auxiliary members have had to change and adapt to different ways of serving current and past servicemembers, including Taylor Curro, Junior member of Virginia Unit 49.
Her plan was to gather 2,020 handwritten thank-you cards for servicemembers overseas. Those plans changed due to the COVID-19, but Curro managed to overcome the obstacle by creating an innovative way to continue making a difference and fulfilling the Auxiliary’s mission.
Although Curro has a retired mother, and an active-duty father in the U.S. Air Force, her membership eligibility is through her grandmother, Terri Onushco U.S. Air Force. Growing up in a military family, she experienced the struggles military families face and wanted to spread awareness.
“I started this project as a way to teach people the struggles that military families go through,” Curro said. “Ten percent of this county’s population is military, and that’s such a big number, but my classmates have no clue about anything military related, and that’s an issue for me.”
Curro’s 2020 New Year’s resolution was to gather 2,020 thank-you cards for active-duty military. She planned to go to local schools and have students write personal notes on the decorated cards she made, but because of the pandemic, Virginia schools were cancelled the rest of the year, forcing Curro to alter her original plan.
“I was determined and didn’t want to wait until the pandemic was over to start the creation of these cards,” said Curro. “So, I set up an online survey where people in the community could fill out a digital thank-you message.”
Virtual cards were not part of her plan, but she managed to make each one personal and heartwarming. Curro, a senior in high school focusing on graduating and attending college, didn’t have a job to be able to purchase 2,020 postcards for people to fill out. So, she handcrafted her own budget-friendly postcards made on index cards decorated with American Legion Family stickers and ‘Thank You’ stamps.
“I don’t know about you, but I feel like instead of printing out the typed words, it’s so much more personal if it’s handwritten. So, I took it upon myself to handwrite each and every one that I have gotten,” Curro said.
Curro set up an online survey through Survey Monkey where her goal is explained. The user is able to fill out a personalized thank-you card for military at home and abroad. Curro then takes the messages and handwrites them on the decorated index cards she made.
SurveyMonkey was extremely helpful and generous during Curro’s project. People who create surveys using the service are able to see only the first 40 responses for free on SurveyMonkey, but Curro had well over that. The corporation gave Curro a complimentary plan that allowed her to see 1,000 entries for free for one month. After the month ended, they gave her a special deal where she only pays $5 a month to see up to 1,000 entries.
“I’ve received 128 so far. Not ideally where I want to be, but it is still a lot and I’m really proud of that,” said Curro.
The Junior Auxiliary member posted her survey on Facebook to allow friends to share what she was trying to accomplish. After beginning to lose hope, one of Curro’s teachers contacted her and said that during the pandemic, a lot of his friends who are past and present military were feeling neglected.
“Countless deployments had been extended, and many people overseas were in virus hotspots without a proper number of testing kits. He told me that they felt at a loss, but when they saw my survey and my mission, it enlightened them, and they felt seen and not forgotten,” Curro shared. “I cried when I heard that my little resolution was changing people’s perspectives during such a difficult time.”
This article was originally published in the August 2020 Auxiliary magazine.