For the holiday season, we wanted to highlight some extraordinary stories about people inspired to give. We hope these gifts of hope and generosity move you as much as they moved us…
I was so excited that Elise, the CEO of ESGH, extended the invitation to me to blog here. Many charities have a difficult time figuring out how to work together because they are concerned that combining efforts may drive potential supporters to another cause. Fortunately that is not the case with Easter Seals of Houston or Boot Campaign!
I am Heather Sholl, a wife, a mother, a business owner and as it turns out, an accidental Co-Founder of a 501(c)3 charity known as Boot Campaign. I say accidental, because my girlfriends and I, the other co-founders, never intended to have a nationally recognized charity that challenged us to make room on our proverbial plates for 1.4 million men and women we had never met.
My dear friend and now business partner, Sherri Reuland, read Lone Survivor by retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and was moved to share it with as many of her friends as she could. I was one of those friends, as were Ginger Giles, Leigh Ann Ranslem, and Mariae Bui, now the Co-Founders of Boot Campaign . After reading the book we were all enlightened to the sacrifices that the men, women and families of our military make on our behalf, every day when they go to work. We were inspired to find a way to show the gratitude that we felt and decided to wear combat boots to a military benefit concert in Tyler, Texas. Since Mariae just happens to be a wildly talented photographer, we asked her to document our experience at the concert. We wore our own combat boots from the local army supply store and asked the artists who were performing to wear the extra pairs we brought. We are no strangers to organizing a ruckus, so we asked anyone and everyone at the concert who would participate, to take a break from the fun to ‘”put themselves in the shoes of the military” and let us capture it with the camera. We giggled together as high-falutin’ East Texas donors with rhinestone studded cowboy boots and band members with Mohawks agreed to don our combat boots for mini photo shoots.
After the giggles, the stories and the hangovers had long passed, we received phone calls from a few impressive people. The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, and the music management company for Joe Nichols, had heard about our photos (and our enthusiastic antics) and were interested in participating in “that boot thing”. We had no idea where we were headed, but we knew we were on to something! Before we could form a plan we had the support of a few people we never thought we’d meet much less that we’d be wrangling dirty socks and used boots for!
All silliness aside, there is no better time for me to appreciate the effort I put in to making a little extra space on my plate to give back to something bigger than myself. With Veteran’s Day in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I can’t help but think about how grateful I am for everything I do not have to do, yet the opportunity to have done so much. No matter what you have a passion for, what you are moved by or what you wish you could change, don’t be afraid to make a little extra room on your plate this year. –And I don’t mean for turkey! You’ll be amazed how far a thank you can go.
Heather Sholl, Co-Founder, Boot Campaign
Nationally, Easter Seals is the largest non-governmental provider of services to veterans. To learn more about this work, connect to Dixon Center here. If you are inspired to help, click here to learn more or to donate.