Liebman family effort honors military families
By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Wed., Nov. 20, 2013
Benjamin and Michael Liebman have created a special way to reach out to soldiers and their families to show appreciation for all they do and have done for America. The fifth annual Soldier Appreciation Dinner that took place on Nov. 17 at the South Windsor Community Center has its roots in a television program Michael Liebman was watching in 2008.
While watching the news, he saw pictures of soldiers on active duty playing baseball with primitive equipment like sticks and rocks. “This just isn’t right,” Liebman recalls saying to himself. “I want to do something to change that.” He was 13 years old at the time and about to make his bar mitzvah, which asks a boy to do something for the community. He felt this was the ideal project.
Liebman decided to organize a box drive where people could donate sports equipment in several different areas. After a couple of shipments to military camps, it was obvious to Liebman that the families of the soldiers were giving up a great deal as well. “The military families really needed support too,” said Liebman. “They are doing without their family members and feeling overwhelmed. I really wanted to do something that showed appreciation for them as well as the soldiers and vets. That is when the idea of an appreciation dinner came to mind.”
When Michael’s brother, Benjamin, became 13 and was preparing for his bar mitzvah, he decided to take on the project as well. Soon it became a family affair. Their parents, Phyllis and Howard Liebman, had shared Michael's passion for the soldiers from the beginning, and soon his sister, Rebecca, was helping too. Rebecca is off to college now, so she was unable to attend the dinner, but she still lends as much support as possible.
“We are so thankful to all of our donors that have made this event possible,” said Howard Liebman. “We couldn’t do this without all the volunteers. So many people offered to help with very short notice."
"I just met one woman last night, and she is here working just as hard as the volunteers that have been here from the beginning,” said Phyllis.
It is obvious that the Liebmans are extremely proud of their children for creating and continuing this event. “To think this all started from sport boxes. This is truly a wonderful way to thank the people that make it possible for us to remain free,” said Phyllis.
“It is very important for the children today to learn that they need to give back to the community. That is exactly what this event is doing,” said Howard.
The donors for the event were Boston’s Pizza, Olive Garden, Carraba's, Mill on the River, Maneeley’s, Dunkin Donuts, Panera Bread, Highland Park Market and Jessica Sullivan.
Ace Harrison has been on the other end of the sports equipment drive. He was serving in the Navy in 2009, when the men at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait received a shipment of whiffle balls and bats. “It was something that we didn’t realize we were missing until we got the equipment,” said Harrison. “It was definitely uplifting to get the equipment.”