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Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.
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June 3, 2008
My name is Ruby Santos, and I’m your new pairing through the Help a Soldier Foundation.
I’m not sure if you’ve participated with Help a Soldier in the past or if this is your first time, but if you aren’t familiar with the fine print of the program, I’ll break you in so that you aren’t wondering why this person named Ruby from Houston, Texas is e-mailing and sending you letters. (It’ll probably be a month or so from now before you start getting mail from me, so this might get a bit awkward. After we get the hang of this, I’ll try not to send you the same message that I also e-mail because that would get boring.)
According to the foundation’s guidelines, I’m supposed to reach out to you once a week while you are deployed… wherever it is you’re deployed. They don’t tell me these things. All I know is that you’re a staff sergeant. Please don’t feel obligated to tell me where you are unless you want to. It doesn’t matter to me. Since I’m not sure if you prefer e-mails or getting letters, I’ll do both in the meantime. You can let me know which you would rather get.
I’m not even close to being rich, but hopefully every once in a while, I can send you a care package. Hopefully you understand. I’m sure you’re busy, so I won’t bore you too much now.
Since we’re in this for the long haul, I’ll ask you a few questions so we can start getting to know each other. Hope that works for you.
Do you go by Aaron or something else?
How many months do you have left in your deployment?
If I could send you one thing from home, what would it be?
I look forward to hearing from you, but if you’re busy, that’s okay, too. I promise I’ll write every week anyway.
All the best,
June 8, 2008
It’s your new Help a Soldier pairing, Ruby from Houston.
I hope you’re doing well and that you received my e-mail and/or letter.
I’ll answer the questions I asked you last week so you can get to know me a little.
I go by Ruby. Rubes. Rubella (only my mom calls me that). Squirt (everyone I’m related to or knows me through family calls me that.)
N/A since I’m not the one deployed.
If our roles were reversed, those packets of microwave-ready macaroni and cheese would be exactly what I would miss and want more of. Please don’t ask how many I can eat in a single sitting.
There isn’t much to tell about me, but if you have any questions, ask away.
All the best,
June 15, 2008
It’s Ruby again. I hope you’re doing well. Have any of my letters shown up? Are my e-mails coming through? I won’t send you anything new via e-mail until I’m sure the messages are going to the right place. They haven’t bounced back to me as undeliverable, but I would rather play it safe.
If you’ve sent me a response through snail mail, I haven’t gotten it yet, and if you haven’t, that’s okay, too. I know these things take a while.
I know I already asked, but have you participated with HaS before? You’re my third soldier that I’ve done this exchange with and usually we trade questions back and forth to get to know each other. Hopefully you don’t think I’m being intrusive. I had pen pals in other countries when I was a kid through a program at my elementary school and I thought it was fun. HaS is like a grown-up version of it.
I have more questions for you.
Do you play video games?
Are you an only child or do you have siblings?
Pizza or cheeseburgers?
Hope to hear from you soon,
June 23, 2008
It’s Ruby Santos, your Help a Soldier pair again.
I’ll answer the questions I sent you last week below if that’s okay.
Video games: I really enjoy playing video games when I get a chance. My old Nintendo still works, and I’ve been known to play Duck Hunt for hours at a time if I’m stressed.
Siblings or no: I’m (un)lucky enough to have two brothers and two sisters. I’m the fourth in line.
Pizza or cheeseburgers: Cheeseburgers all the way forever.
Hope everything on your side of the world is well.
June 29, 2008
I hope you’re doing fine. I haven’t heard from you, and I know this kind of thing happens, but I worry anyway. I’m still sending the same e-mails and messages, so I hope I’m not boring you.
I’m not sure what to send you, and more questions seem annoying, so I’ll give you a break. I hope you don’t mind terrible jokes because they’re my favorite. Here’s a military one:
Sergeant Major to a young soldier: “I didn’t see you at camouflage training this morning, soldier.”
Soldier: “Thank you very much, sir.”