Friday, January 19, 2007

Red Shirt Fridays: Growing?

Shoved topward for Friday! Update below!

After my days off this past Wednesday and Thursday, I returned to work, dressed in my red shirt as always, to find nearly half the Associates at my Largo Wal-Mart similarly decked out in red. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I shrugged and went about my duties. Since the early morning guy had not shown I headed out to the parking lot to sweep up the debris that folks leave all over the place. Not the most pleasant duty, but it does allow me to wander outside and suck in some early morning air.

I headed in to see if the Morning Meeting was getting underway. On Fridays the store springs for pastries and bagels from a local bakery. Makes the Friday Morning Meeting an enjoyable thing. I usually make sure the coffee is made - our Snack Bar is now a Subway Sandwich Shop and we kept the old coffee maker for our employee lounge. It makes a gallon in about 5 minutes. FREE COFFEE! - and try to grab one of the fritters, which are very popular, and hunker down by one of the doors to listen. The meeting went on as it usually does, although seeing so many folks wearing red was a bit odd.

Toward the end of the meeting, as I was getting ready to head back out, one of the associates began to speak about the red shirts. This gal is the store activist. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas she had us gathering supplies, food, and gifts for a local orphanage. Yep, she adopted an orphanage! She pushes the Pot Luck Lunches to gather funds for ailing associates, invites reps from the Diabetes Foundation, Cancer Foundation, and so on, to speak to us. She's sort of the store's conscience.

Last week, on Friday, after nudging one of the fellows about his lack of a red shirt - he asked about it, and even visited my blog! - for months now, he showed up wearing red! And I said, "Mike, you look snazzy today!" He laughed and told me the same. Well, a few minutes later our activist, who's a department manager and works with Mike, came up to me and asked me about the Red Shirt. I gave her the quick answer, "It's just a way to show our support for American troops. Nothing political. Just a show of support every Friday." She smiled and said, "I wish you'd told me. I would've worn red, too!"

Well, I never gave that another thought. But a week passed. And she had gone to work. Something I didn't hear a word about, mind you! She must've pushed this on Wednesday and Thursday.

So, anyway, I had turned to leave the meeting when I heard "Red Shirts?" and turned back. Our activist smiled, saying, "Well, I only just learned about it. I heard it from benning." She turned and pointed at me. "Benning! Come on. Tell us about this."

Okay, so at that point my face was now the obligatory "red", but I had to speak, right? So I did. And I didn't faint, either!

"Red Shirt Fridays," I said, "is a small way for us to show our support for the men and women of this country who have put themselves in Harm's Way for all of us. It's not a big thing. We're not baking bread for the hungry troops; we're not binding up their wounds. We're simply showing them that we love them and support them. It's a way of saying thank you.

"This isn't a one-shot deal. This goes on as long as Americans are in uniform. And as long as it doesn't violate the Wal-Mart dress code." I looked at the Assistant Managers when I said this; we'll be going to brown pants and blue shirts sometime in the next few months. I then pulled the bandana out of my belt-loop and waved it. I wear a bandanna like that all the time. An affectation, I guess, but I feel naked without one it's been so long. This day it was, as I intended, red! I waved that red bandanna and said, "And if we can't wear a Red Shirt in the future, we can certainly wear something red, just like this. This goes on forever."

Then I nodded, and backed up. And they clapped! Cool!

Our store is going Red Shirt Friday now. I hope it lasts a long time so we all get in the spirit. But I didn't do it. All I did was needle one guy who'd asked about it, and kept promising to get a red shirt. If he hadn't spoken to our store activist, nothing would have happened. She made it happen. She has the moxie!

Red Shirt Fridays! It's still alive and kicking! Show your support for the men and women of the American Armed Forces and wear a Red Shirt every Friday. Folks in Canada do the same thing for their Armed Forces. Keep it alive!

Red Shirts for sale

If you need a nice red shirt why not order one from Sues? Check her site out and see what she has to offer. The shirts literally speak for themselves! Show everybody that you support Americans serving in the Armed Forces.

Don't make me needle you about it!

Note: Go check Sues' blog for some great posts, like "For the Love and Honor of America". Worth the trip, Folks! While there I found this test. I dunno. I looked at the results and said, "Who, me???"

You Are An ENTJ

The Executive

You are a natural leader - with confidence and strength that inspires others.
Driven to succeed, you are always looking for ways to gain, power, knowledge, and expertise.
Sometimes you aren't the most considerate person, especially to those who are a bit slow.
You are not easily intimidated - and you have a commanding, awe-inspiring presence.

You would make a great CEO, entrepreneur, or consultant.

Redshirt Friday Update: Monday I spoke with our store activist about going beyond simply wearing red to show support and explained that there are many sites on the Internet that allow us to send help to the troops. She said, "Well, why don't you look at some of them and print them out, ot get me the addresses?"

So that's what I did Monday evening, rather than surf my daily blog path. Tuesday morning I spoke with her again, gave her the list I'd come up with, and described a few of the sites. Two of them seem to be perfect for a small store, which we are, to seek donations, maybe raffle off some things, and generally "DO" to help those in Harm's Way.

Soldier's Angels has a number of "packages" available, from First Response Backpacks - stuffed with what an injured soldier may need on his way to a Military Hospital in Germany - to Sand Scarves, and much more. As the site says on the First Response Backpack page:
In an effort to provide comfort to these wounded heros, the First Response Backpack was developed by a nonprofit organization named Soldiers' Angels. The First Response Backpack is a backpack stuffed with personal items which are necessary and vital to the physical comfort of the soldiers. A typical First Response Backpack contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shampoo, soap and other hygiene products. It also contains articles of clothing and undergarments to provide the soldier some relief from the airy hospital gowns. A phone card is included so that the soldiers can call their family members while they recover. Each pack also contains a blanket. The blanket, dubbed a "Blanket of Hope" is handmade by Soldiers' Angels volunteers and is accompanied by a note of well wishes for each soldier.

And that's only one item. A great item, but there are more available.

Another fine site, and one which absolutely floored me - whoda thought that such a need, much less a response to it, would exist? - is Operation Undergarment. I could try to explain, but here's what it says there:
Operation Undergarment is a grass roots clothing drive to provide injured and sick soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that are deployed in combat zones with clothing items to make their hospital stays more comfortable.

Recently my husband stayed in a hospital (not injury related) on a base in Iraq and was then transported to Germany. He noticed a situation that disturbed him and called me. He asked me if I was interested in starting a project. We named it Operation Undergarment.

When soldiers are injured or sick they are taken to field hospitals in Iraq and are given the best medical care. Quite often their clothes are cut off, burned or soiled and they are disposed of leaving the soldiers in a hospital gown or briefs and just a blanket. These soldiers are sometimes flown to a hospital in Germany wearing only underwear and wrapped in a blanket.

Others are transported in just hospital gowns. Likewise in Germany they do not have much in the way of clothing while in the hospital. The Department of Defense has a great program in place to provide soldiers with clothing once they are released from the hospital in Germany. During their stay in the hospital system they lack the creature comforts we feel they deserve.

We are collecting NEW AND UNUSED underwear, t-shirts, socks, slippers, sweat pants and pajamas to be issued at the hospitals to the injured soldiers. This is a problem we can solve very quickly. Please join us in supporting our wounded and sick soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen by starting a collection box. The soldiers receive excellent medical care and their basic needs are met. Let us come together and help them with comfort.

We have several donation sites already that you may drop-off clothing items at or you can contact CJ Farnham for suggestions on where to setup your own drop-off point.

Can you imagine? This annoyed me no end, but I realized that it is a result of the swiftest possible response to the wounded. Get them out of the field, then get them to the Military Hospitals in Germany. Fast as we can, no matter what that means for the injured. It's a race to treat the wounded. So I am calmer now. But what a way to help the wounded, eh? See to it that they have undies. I like it!

Both these sites are deeply helpful, both address the soldier being transported out of country. Either is a fine choice to send a donation or purchase a "package".

There are, as I say, many others, as well. But these two seemed a fine fit for those of us in the store. I expect to talk to our activist again on Friday. We'll see what she thought, and see if we can find a way to do this.


defiant_infidel said...

Premium, Benning! But may I humbly disagree on one item?

The 'store activist' was, even if indirectly, spurred by none other than YOU. You were a lot more than just the guy who eloquently spoke to the others in that friday meeting... YOU are the catalyst!

I work alone, but I assure you that all Fridays henceforth will be Red Shirt Fridays for me. Yeah, a wicked cool gesture... all thanks to Benning.

By the way, I have each day worn a neatly folded and draped bandanna from my left hip pocket for the last 32 years. YOU DA' MAN!

benning said...

Then I guess that makes us Bandanna Brothers! ;)

Brooke said...

Kudos on the Red Shirts at your store! That's awesome!

I love it when you find a new BlogTHing!

Here's mine:

The Duty Fulfiller

You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking - you get the job done.
You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knittings.
Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.
Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.

You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.

Dead-on! LOL!

Gayle said...

Good for you, Benning. And don't be so modest; defiant infidel's right!

I have a red shirt, Benning, and I do wear one every Friday. I don't look good in red, so I only have one. I wish it were green or brown or black, but I can see why they should be red. :)

camojack said...

Quite by chance, there was a red shirt at the top of the stack for this, my (3rd shifter's) Friday.

Not that I don't support the troops, of course; I used to be one of 'em...

Anonymous said...

Red shirt is on. Pretty happening how that worked out at work.

FYI: I just got your book in the mail last night, unfortunately when home I do not get too much time to read; so I only read the first chapter.

WOW and I'm not just blowing smoke up yer....

It is rare when a book grabs me in only the first few pages. I'm extremely excited to read it. I'll let you know when all is read and done.

Sues said...

Hi Benning! Thanks for the link and for your help in spreading the Red Fridays.

I am very excited to hear that your store is going red every Friday. As you know, I work in a hospital and I wear red scrubs every Friday with the phrase, "Wear Red on Fridays, Support Our Troops" embroidered onto them. I've had many people ask, and a few are now wearing red, but nothing like your response.