The Blog:  I never thought about the Troops. Then one random event in 2009 changed everything. The post about it is: A Sailor Wrecks My Indifference. Inspired, I adopted a Soldier and that led me to help over 800 Troops. Here’s the good, bad, funny, sometimes heartbreaking and always honest story. By sharing, I’m hoping to:

1. inspire others to care

2. maybe even put that care into action.

3. help close the divide between military and civilians

The letters and objects in the header are all things that Troops have sent me.

Me:  I’m Italian, German, Filipino, and Chamoru so of course I was born in Queens. I’m a Creative Director and writer in Advertising. I have a beautiful little girl named Sofia who has a great voice and even better sense of humor. I have supported various military charities including Soldiers’ Angels, Adopt A U.S. Soldier, Cup of Joe,  IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), Wounded Warriors, USO, and Active Heroes.  Below is a pic of me freezing at the IAVA pre-parade meet-up on Veterans Day 11-11-11.

You can reach me here: gina@ginaleftthemall.com

© Gina left the mall, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gina left the mall with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

60 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Gina! I checked your blog after seeing you read one of my posts (thanks for that!). I just kept reading one post after another. Well done. Oh and you’re Filipino, too ? Nice 🙂

    • I’m very happy you liked it! And I just want to say thank you for your husband’s service and for your family’s as well. I saw on your blog the creative ways you helped your children prepare for his absence and I thought they were great. (Everyone should have a sweet dreams pillow!) I hope the time passes quickly and he can read to them in person again soon.

  2. Hi Gina, I think your blog is wonderful! I can tell you from personal experience that it means so much to receive mail and/or care packages from “strangers” with a big heart. When I was deployed to Iraq, I had several groups that wrote to us all the time and sent great treats for our Military Working Dogs. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Dayna,
      Thanks so much, I’m happy you like it! I’m also very happy to hear that you guys had support out there and the dogs too! I’m hoping that if I can spread awareness, more troops will hear their name at mail call and have the morale-boosting certainty that they are not forgotten.

    • Hi Dayna B. my name is Kyndal. I am a big fan and a big supporter and prayer warrior of the Troops!!! I saw you post on here walla go, and noticed that you are a soldier, I hope you won’t mind hearing this from a big supporter, I just want to tell you from the bottom of my heart, “Thank You” for your wonderful service to our country, your service to our country is very much appreciated!!!

  3. Gina,

    Because of people like you I have hope in the future of the United Sates. Your heart must be made of gold. This is a beautiful blog and you are a wonderful person. You deserve a medal for what you are doing. Thank You!

    • Rob,

      I was very moved by your words. I feel humbled because most of the things I do are pretty small. And I do them from the comfort of my home with my loved ones close by. I have the easy part in all this ☺

      I believe from your comment on Dayna’s blog that you have served as well. If so, please know you have my sincere gratitude.

      Thank you for this note, it means a lot.

      • Gina,

        We survive because of all the small things that add up. You are single handily changing the world, one person at a time. Keep smiling and keep up the good work. I hope it is okay; I posted a link to your blog along with some comments. Thank you and please stay safe and dry through the hurricane.

    • Hi! Happy you like it! And congrats on the good news I read in your blog 🙂 Please tell your husband I thank him for his service. I’m grateful for all you do as well. And don’t worry, Thanksgiving will be here soon!

      • Thank you!! Thanksgiving will be awesome.. We get one more week together before the Big D! I’m excited but at the same time dreading it because I know the next goodbye will be tougher. But your blog made me smile, I will look forward to reading it, and showing it to my hubby too. Take care!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, and please keep up the great work. You and I have similar takes, the soldier is doing their job. Thank them for the freedoms we so often take for granted. Take care and God bless.


  5. Thank you for stopping by my blog today. But I really just want to hug you for all you do for our soldiers…thank you. People like you make a difference in the lives of soldiers and their families. Your blog gave me some much needed hope today as I begin to try to understand PTSD.

    • First, I would like to thank your brother for his service and your family’s as well. I’m very sorry for all that you are enduring right now. And very happy that he is getting the help he needs.

      I don’t know a lot about PTSD beyond what some troops have shared with me. But I will tell you that I have one soldier who had a very rough time and is thriving now. So I know it’s possible. Does he still have bad days? Yes. Will he ever be the same? No. But he is so much more than his pain. I wish the same for your brother.

    • Hi Daryl,
      Thank you for reading! I am so sorry to respond so late. (I really do try not to miss any comments) Thank you also for the nomination. I am shy to put focus on me versus the troops. I really struggled on my current post about the documentary film. But if I can get over that, I will give it a shot 🙂 Thank you for feeling “very inspired” G

  6. Gina, Kumusta and Hafa Adai! Thanks for visiting my latest blog-carnation. globalfamilytreks is really by 3rd blog or is it my 4th…I had to take one down while I was in Kandahar at the request of my boss. Too much of a risk that my photos and words might give away too much… Yeah, I guess the bad guys are going to read the musings of a new mom sent down range? Anyway, your blog is poignant and well written. I will admit, begrudgingly that some of it is tough to read as a vet who’s been there and seen the boys (rarely are there women…) when the lights gone out in their eyes. A million thanks for trying to bridge the gap between us and them… Maybe I can get my mom to read your blog and she might better understand why I did what I did for so long. Maraming salamat… Melody

    • Melody,
      Kumusta and Hafa Adai!! Thank you for your kinds words. It means a lot to me that our vets feel that my blog is genuine and sincere. And that it reflects some of the things that haven’t shared for whatever reason. I would be thrilled if my words could help your Mom understand what you do/did for us all. You know, maybe you should forward the post that got me started- that made me look at our military in a whole new light. It’s called A Sailor Wrecks My Indifference. It involves my Filipina roots. If you click the words “one random event” in the first sentence on this page, you will get there.

      Look forward to reading your blog as well. Maraming salamat….Gina

  7. As a Mom with a soldier heading out on deployment the day after tomorrow, I can’t thank you enough for what you have done and continue to do to support our troops. Thank you for stopping by my blog so that I could find yours. It warms my heart and I look forward to reading more about your work.

    • They say having a child is like having your heart walk around outside of you. “They” are right. I worry about my 8-yr-old little girl all the time. I know tomorrow begins a journey not just for your son, but for your whole family as well As you love, worry and support him through his deployment, please know that you are not alone. This blog is proof that a great many people care. Thank you for reading and please give my very best wishes to your son!

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  9. Hi Gina, Ive been flicking through my past comments and stumbled across your blog once again. I love your writing and the topics are always inspiring. Would you mind if i link you to my blog to take part in the Liebster award? Please let me know 🙂

  10. I’m the spouse of a soldier and I want to thank you for what you do! My husband has been on the receiving end of courtesies that people like you provide many times throughout his career. Bless you!

    • Lila,
      It is an honor and a pleasure to do these small things. I’m sure the people who have expressed support for your husband feel the same way. I’m very happy he has been shown this care throughout his career. And I thank you and your family for all you do!

    • Hi Tori,
      Thanks for your kind words and for sharing! I think music could be a powerful way to help many wounded warriors. I’m very happy that you’re doing this for Jesse and, of course, happy to help support it. If this works out, do you hope to do this for other vets? Or is there an existing music program?

  11. Hey Gina, I’m Britta, and I discovered your blog after looking for resources that would show me how to go about sending letters to Soldiers. Your blog is so inspirational, and because of you, I’m about to send my first message via Cup of Joe. Have a lovely week!

    • Hi Britta,
      Thanks for finding me and for your kind words. More than that, thank you for putting your caring feelings into action! I’m so happy I could I help out. 🙂 I hope you have a lovely week as well!

  12. Gina! Hello…I feel like we’re kindred spirits. I left the mall too…just around 2009 as a result of my interaction with some of our military folks on Bodybuilding.com. It so happens that I used to write back and forth with a Marine there who had a tagline that read “The Marines are at war. America is at the mall.” That was the first time I heard any derivation of that saying and it disturbed me greatly. It was the beginning of my inspiration for my new endeavor Words For Warriors Project. In a nutshell, I’m collecting letters of encouragement/support (from people with and without a military background) to our veterans. I’ve had the first lot published in a book (some people you know are in the book…Rob Akers) and I’m distributing them free of charge through our VA hospitals/clinics and veterans organizations. The feedback has been tremendously positive and I’m in the process of planning a second edition (to be published in August). Would you like to be in my second edition? I always tell people this isn’t a writing contest or exercise in perfect grammar, It’s just a few words from the heart for our veterans. You can read more about the project, read the letters in the first edition and see where the books have been distributed in the Project updates section at http://www.words4warriors.com (it’s a WordPress site). I’m now one of your followers. Sending you wishes for big energy for all the great work you’re doing!

    • Lynn,
      Kindred spirits indeed! I simply LOVE what you are doing and all that you’ve done so far. I would be thrilled to be in your next edition. There is so much I want our warriors to know, it will be hard for me to edit down to a manageable/desirable length…lol. But as you say, it needn’t be perfect, just heartfelt. I will send you something soon. Oh..and I signed up to follow your blog as well! Gina

  13. Excellent! I’m so happy you want to be in the book. I’m delighted to have your participation. I can’t wait to get this second edition out and into the hands of some of our veterans. The first edition is being very well received. I’ll be publishing some more of the feedback on the Words For Warriors Project website as I go along. Hope you had a great day!


  14. Gina,
    I enjoy your blog, I just came across it a few days ago and have been reading a ton of your blog posts. So I am reaching out for some expertise. I decided to adopt a troop with my family and kids (ages 6&8) through adoptaussoldier. My mom and sisters and cousin have been collecting things. I ran across your blog when I was researching useful things to send and stuff that is not worth it. I came across on the army strong website a candid care package informational by Specialist Benjamin Barhorst. I loved it! I also liked that he replied to so many questions. After a week I returned to the site and found your blog. So I am turning to you and asking you in your experience what do you find are most requested and lest used items?

    I love that you keep in touch with the families. You are one busy and special person to do this.

    We got assigned a unit with a female commander and 9 troops age 19-21 under her which the contact person at adoptaussoldier said she believed they were all male.

    I found it helpful that I should put everything in garbage bags incase other packages leaked – never thought if that. So far I am up to 4 large flat rate boxes full and one medium full. More to be expected. I did order 2 sling shots after I read your one blog. I plan on putting marshmallows and a ziploc bag of puppy food in it – my son is a scout and that’s what they use to shoot 🙂 please feel free to email me. I’d love to go over other things and ideas I have for them.

    Keep up the great work and the blogging!!

    • Sarah,
      I think it’s AMAZING that you and your family have taken on adopting an entire troop! On behalf of everyone I have ever helped (and their families) THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

      And yes, the fact that I’ve been able to keep in touch with some troops is something special. A few I’ve met in person, but even the ones I haven’t…. it’s funny to have one of your best friends be a “stranger” 🙂

      As for what to send, there are some basic guidelines that apply to all. Then you need to consider location and personal preference (if you know what they are).

      I’ve never used garbage bags but I have used baggies—which are much smaller than perhaps what you need. If you are sending food, check if the bags have a strong scent (some have odor control or just have a strong plastic smell) If you pack food with ANY type of hygiene products or strongly scented items, the food will take on the scent and then…well, there’s a reason nobody wants Irish Spring Cupcakes or Speed Stick Cookies.

      I don’t know if you saw my post “7 Tips From Package to Packing” but that has some general stuff. http://tinyurl.com/mhemq4t (by the way, thanks for reading!!)

      It would be a little easier to answer you further if I had a better idea of what you were already sending. Just give a few days to get back to you because I am out of town. Thanks again for all you are doing!

      • So far we used your idea and bought 2 slingshots with 2 replacement rubber band things (because you said your soldier left it behind I thought it would give longer life with replcement bands), for ammo – marshmallows and a ziploc of puppy chow, industrial box of toe warmers, a traditional football and set of small flexible orange cones, a pump for the ball cause we thought that might stay there awhile too, lots of cookies, huge box of hot choc, tons of entertainment magazines, a couple boxes of ziploc bags so they can split things up, large stack of crossword books, dried fruit, nuts, a huge bag of jelly beans from the candy factory by us with pamphlets and tour hats. We bought the commander a book and a couple cd’s that she’d like. My kids are making lots of pics.

        These are ideas of other things I had so let me know what sounds ok, used DVDs and CDs, used buy fairly recent books. A few boxes of either stationary or greeting/birthday cards that they can mail or send to their friends/family, couple pairs of earbuds, couple headphone splitters.

        As far as toiletries, I’m at a loss. I know they get supplied a lot from the PX, but I don’t know what are “hot” items to get mailed? Name Brand stuff? Body Wash? Bar Soap? Wet Wipes? Crest? Lotion? I don’t know. Should I send coffee? Powder Creamer?

        Thanks for input! Safe travels.

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  16. Gina-You know how they say your angels are around you? Well you are def. one! Thanks for the wonderful company, amazing stories, inspiration and fresh NYC bagels & crunch bars on the plane ride to Georgia. Before I got on that plane I was the anxious, scared and worried and you put me at ease and made me so pumped for all of life’s adventures. Even though it was short, I hope you had a wonderful trip to see your soldier! I arrived at my best friends house and Fried Green Tomatoes was on tv, the universe works in mysterious ways and I’m pretty sure I cried within the first five minutes. I am so thankful I met you because there needs to be more of yous in this world. Happy holidays! ❤

    • Lauren,
      It was an absolute pleasure meeting you! And getting to do so at such an exciting point in your life made it extra special. I’m thrilled that you found something good in those stories. That’s a feeling you can take with you no matter where you call home:) And I want you to know I got the biggest smile when I saw that you got to have Fried Green Tomatoes of your own, lol. I hope you had a wonderful holiday too! Enjoy the adventure of 2016 and the adventures beyond that as well. You deserve it! Best, G

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