BY SANDRA GUY
A Joliet woman who grew up in a Navy family now works to help servicemen and women in all military branches – and her cause is the theme of a Facebook pop-up shop that opens Friday, Dec. 6, in the Fulton Market neighborhood.
“We’re literally trying to get ‘Christmas’ to the kids of people deployed,” said Geriann Wiesbrook, who started the Military Mama Network on Facebook, [https://www.facebook.com/MilitaryMamaNetworkpage/] whose cause the social-media giant is highlighting at its brick-and-mortar shop. “Otherwise, they’re not going to get Christmas.”
The Facebook pop-up shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at 952 W. Fulton Market.
People may give cash donations, sponsor a child’s gift wishes, write thank-you cards that will accompany gifts that military families prioritized on their holiday gift lists, and snack on cookies and hot cocoa while they learn more about the non-profit Military Mama Network. They can also meet Wiesbrook in the pop-up shop on Friday.
The pop-up shop is part of Facebook’s More Together campaign, which celebrates the power of Facebook Groups to bring together people from different backgrounds over shared interests and experiences – in this case, supporting military families in need, said Facebook spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni Gray.
Facebook launched a new TV commercial in November, showcasing the Military Mama Network Facebook Group and the work they do to support military families and veterans during the holiday season.
Wiesbrook said she started the Facebook group on Sept. 11, 2013, after her son joined the U.S. Army, and she and other families started sharing stories on the social network about the service members’ needs.
Many of the servicemen and women’s families cannot afford to buy basic needs such as socks and moleskin to prevent feet from blistering, since the purchase and postage costs $100 per box.
“Providing one box per week at $100 is impossible for most of the people in our network,” Wiesbrook said.
The goal is to not only provide for military families, but also to show people with no association to the country’s Armed Forces that they’re important partners in the mission to help, she said.
“You can show support tangibly,” she said. “It’s so important that they get a hand-written letter or a letter of support. … And it’s not just for the holidays. We have military families who will need help come March.”
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