By: Ari Fuld
During the month of November I spent hours meeting with high ranking IDF officers of elite units. Some of the officers contacted me, but for the most part, I was the one reaching out to them and my question was simple, “what do you need?”
While some of the officers were happy to discuss the needs of soldiers under their command, others wanted to know who was asking. It only took a couple of seconds to explain what Standing Together does for soldiers and the reaction was always a surprised look and a huge smile.
Let me back up for a second and give you a short IDF briefing before I tell you about my Chanukah in Ohio, Florida and NY.
When an 18 year old Israeli drafts into the IDF, the army supplies him with the essentials. When I say essentials, I mean things that will allow him / her to survive the three grueling and challenging years that he will be serving in uniform. Besides the boots, uniform and gun, most of the personal gear supplied is not in the best of condition and soldiers spend between 900-2000 shekels ($200-$600) on personal gear that will help them get through their service.
Let there be no mistake, soldiers in the IDF would fight in their underwear if they had to and would not complain.
We don’t have the luxury of calling a strike and we wouldn’t want to.
Unlike our enemies who lost every war they started with Israel and continue to exist,
if Israel loses a war….
When I called up the IDF officers I wanted to know what they needed during the winter months to help keep their soldiers warm and fully operational even under the toughest and coldest winter weather conditions. The problem is, any and all winter gear or clothing cannot negatively affect the abilities of a soldier to fight in any way. Take gloves for example – keeping the hands warm is no big feat but as long as a soldier is wearing gloves, shooting is simply not possible. That’s why the Standing Together Operational Winter Gloves come with a retractable trigger finger that allows soldiers to stay warm while maintaining full firepower capabilities.
After putting together a full winter gear pack together with IDF officers, I flew to the States to raise the funds needed to supply 3,000 soldiers with the OWG (Operational Winter Gear). I flew out the last week of November and returned on December 8th with just a quarter of the sponsors needed. For the next two weeks we gave out winter gear packs to hundreds of soldiers serving in the coldest areas of Israel. I cannot describe to you the amazing feeling one gets when seeing the smiles on soldiers’ faces as we gave them gear that was sponsored by people like you.
Then the phone calls started coming in. Officers from different units were calling and emailing and asking if there was any chance we could supply them with much needed winter gear. As an active IDF reserves soldier, I know what it is like to be on an operation and missing gloves or becoming drenched because our jackets are not waterproof. There was only one thing to do and there really was no hesitation on my part. I flew out again to raise the funds needed to supply IDF soldiers with the winter gear they so desperately needed. I left on the sixth night of Chanukah (my family was NOT very happy) with one goal in mind: GET THESE GUYS GEAR THAT WILL KEEP THEM WARM, DRY AND FULLY OPERATIONAL.
I spent the last days of Chanukah in Ohio, Florida and NY speaking about the IDF and meeting awesome people and real supporters of Israel. Time was of the essence as the winter months have already arrived and we needed to get the gear out to the soldiers sooner than later.
I boarded my plane home ten minutes before New Years and began writing this post right after the Birthright group sitting in front of me counted down to the New Year. It was then that my mind started thinking about the guys and girls on duty. I am sure many of the Birthright participants were excited about hanging out in Jerusalem and partying in Tel Aviv, but my mind was focused on the storm that is expected to hit Israel this weekend and the soldiers who will be on duty in the freezing weather. The temperature is expected to drop, the forecast calls for snow and while I found sponsors for many more winter packs, we are still short of our 3,000 IDF soldier goal.
I know you are all still busy recovering from the holiday fun, but in Israel we are getting ready for the biggest blizzard in years and we need your help. We have a list of IDF units dispatched to the North with just over 1000 soldiers who will be stationed there for the next couple of months. We NEED to get these guys the winter gear and YOU can be part of this amazing opportunity.
You want to see what it means to IDF soldiers when you support them?
Here are some of the soldiers with Standing Together along with several sponsors from around the world who joined us in delivering the winter gear.
You can sponsor a single soldier or a full unit.
Click on I WANT TO KEEP AN IDF SOLDIER WARM. It’s time to support those who are protecting Israel.
SHARE with friends and family and let’s show our support for our heroes!