Jonnie and Brookie Allen decided to volunteer when their brother, David, wrote them from Iraq and asked them if they would start an Adopt-A-Marine program in their schools. He is a Marine and is in the 15th MEU. There are over 1,500 marines in the 15th MEU. David advised his sibling that they were hungry and in need of personal hygiene products. They needed kits with snack foods and hygiene products such as toothpaste, nail clippers, soap and more.
First, they brought the idea to their classroom for help. Then they went to the community for additional assistance. They went on radio and TV stations and asked the public to buy their music CD, Let Freedom Ring as they are in a singing group in Arizona. They also appeared at many rallies so they could sell as many CD's as possible. In turn, 100% of all the sales of the CD’s were donated to this program. Next, they went shopping to all the 99-cent stores so that they could purchase as much personal hygiene products as possible. Finally, they put together the Adopt-A-Marine kits.
The kits were full of more than just hygiene products. They also sent the Marines portable cameras, snack foods and letters from the public, supporting our military. They also packed newspapers from home and lots of recreational items, especially rubix cubes. They donated in excess of 100 hours on this program, and it was worth every minute. At times, they remembered wanting to go out and play; however, they remembered all the people fighting for freedom and decided to continue to work.
On July 12th, the Allens were able to see David and the other Marines who retuned safely to Camp Pendelton. They received a warm reception from their brother and the other Marines they had adopted. The men came up and hugged the girls and said "you're the two little girls that sent us the packages." The young ladies raised in excess of $6,000 in money and product to send to Iraq.
This was not the first or only volunteer service for the Allens. Their family has always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. Their first service project was when they were only three and five years old. The girls participated in The Big Help. They drove around in their Barbie jeep with a wagon attached and would collect canned goods for the homeless. They went to 1,000 homes in 30 days and collected an entire truckload of food. They participated in The Big Help for two years. The sisters have started and completed more than 10 major projects since The Big Help. They feel they have been blessed with so much that anything they can do to help others is important.
Currently, Jonnie and Brookie are working on raising money to purchase new shoes for the children of the Thomas J. Pappas school for the homeless. This is an ongoing project they started two years ago when they were able to present each of the 76 children with a new pair of shoes.