To date we have shipped $140,000+ of school supplies, $50,000+ of medical supplies, $20,000+ in vitamins, hundreds of boxes of donated clothes and toys, and funded more than 30 life surgeries including severe burns, orthopedic reconstructions, and heart repairs.
This is a grassroots organization. All participants in this fund are volunteers, 100% of donated funds will go to those children and families in need.
Tom Deierlein Foundation Mission Statement:
TD Foundation provides aid to children directly affected by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to children of wounded warriors and fallen heroes here in the US.
What We Believe:
The organization is non-political. Regardless of how people feel about the war, one thing is true for all of us – we do not want to see innocent children suffer. The truly tragic thing about the current situation is that the most innocent and needy are suffering. With the mass exodus of the middle class in 2002-2006, there are precious few social institutions and places for these destitute families to seek medical care and obtain life’s basic necessities like clothes and vitamins or a simple notebook and pencil for school.
Many people frustrated with the war and the current economy want to find ways to make a difference, or do something – ANYTHING. TDF provides an extremely valuable opportunity for all of us to make a true difference – a direct, specific, and tangible difference – in the lives of young children effected by war.
Our Story and History:
In early October 2005, digital media exec Tom Deierlein, a West Point graduate and former Army Airborne Ranger, returned from a typical business trip to find a Western Union telegram waiting on his door. After 12 years in the inactive reserves, the telegram informed him, he was being recalled to active duty military service. He had 30 days to report.
An article by Jack Myers illustrates how both Tom and the digital media industry reacted.
Originally published: November 11th 2005
After 5 months of training and waiting at Ft Jackson and Ft Bragg Tom deployed to Baghdad and was assigned as the Civil Affairs Officer for Sadr City. While deployed as a Civil Affairs Officer focused on reconstruction and economic development, he reviewed the terrible conditions in Sadr City, a slum of 2.3 million people in East Baghdad, Iraq. The Army and US government were focused on helping the newly formed government and re-building the infrastructure and economy. But in Tom’s area of operation there was still a huge need to fill the gap with HA (Humanitarian Aid). The goal was to help children affected in war-torn East Baghdad with basic life needs from shoes and clothes to school supplies and vitamins.
On May 4, 2006 Tom sent the following (excerpt) in an email back home and the TD Foundation was born:
- “What can you send?
I really don’t need anything personally right now. But, if you want to, please think of inner-city children and what they need. Specifically, I need things in bulk. Ones and twos are nice and still appreciated, of course, but I need bunches of stuff if I am going to set up a distribution and do anything meaningful.
Here are some thoughts:
- Baby/children’s clothes, plain, and simple is best. (Nothing with religious symbols or names.) Perhaps you can have a clothing drive at your local church or school, box it up and ship it here. I may even be able to send photos back.
- Children’s vitamins (like Flintstones Chewables). Once again, quantity is key.
- Soccer balls — yes, cliché, but the kids still want soccer balls here.
- Frisbees, tennis balls, super balls, Nerf footballs, anything easy to toss out of a moving vehicle. Basic toys that any 5- to 12-year-old boy or girl would like”.
A month later he wrote:
- “I don’t know if we should have come here in the first place, I really don’t, but I do know we are here and more importantly, I know that I am here, so I am going to make a difference even if just a little bit at a time each and every day”.
– email sent from Baghdad on May 27, 2006
Over the next few months Tom and his fellow soldiers received boxes by the ton and ran quite a few HA (Humanitarian Aid) distribution missions. Even on regular missions they would always have a box of crayons or two to give to local kids. No red tape, no government forms to fill out – since this was all privately donated The Arch Angels of Alpha Company 414th Civil Affairs got to call the shots and give out supplies where and when they saw the need.
In September of 2006, during Operation Together Forward II, the attempt to re-secure Baghdad, Tom was shot and critically wounded by a sniper while he was out protecting local contractors who were attacked. Tom spent the next 8 months in the hospital at Walter Reed and Spinal Cord Polytrauma Unit at the Tampa VA; first recuperating and then learning to walk again.
But while he lay in the hospital two important things took place. First, Sean Finnegan, Bill Flately, and Paul Bremer, digital advertising executives, took the lead and officially started the Foundation in New York City with a fund raising kick-off event at the Forbes Gallery in NYC in November 2006. Meanwhile, back in Baghdad, Bill Billeter, Tom’s friend, took over his team and continued to finish something Tom had started. He pressed to get a young boy named Abdullah out West to repair his shattered leg. The young boy had been hit been hit a stray RPG (rocket propelled grenade). This innocent boy was caught in the cross fire and there were no qualified medical personnel to operate on him in Baghdad, or Iraq for that matter. Bill made the right connections with military and civilian doctors and with the help of “Jaguar 6” Phil McIntire the ArchAngel Company Commander – they arranged for Abdullah to get treatment at the University of Michigan. The funds from the Forbes event paid for the travel and any treatment costs not covered by the hospital. This was also our first introduction to Marikay Satryano, who at the time was an Army Staff Sergeant working at the Jordanian Embassy. She made all the paperwork and logistics happen. Today Marikay is the glue that brings and holds together many of the people and organizations we work with, including GOLA, ICP and VRI (see our partners page).
In early 2007 Sean Finnegan and his Mom sent the first major clothing drop from Chicago (over $6,000 worth of used clothes). Bill Billeter wrote home:
- “There were hundreds of Iraqis there with their families. We pulled up and opened the trailer, and you would have thought we were giving out gold bars. Hundreds of them gathered around us to get whatever we had to offer. And they were grateful. I saw little kids holding stuffed animals bigger than they were. I saw families helping their children try on the new clothing and shoes. We have not thanked you and your friends for sending us these things. We have been busy here and there are never enough hours in the day. Please thank them for me. It was a great event and a great day, and all the boxes of gifts that you guys sent us made a big difference.”
In May 2007, Tom, now a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, officially and finally retired from the Army and returned to New York City. With the help of Rick Parkhill, Mike Pubentz, Brad Berens and the entire iMedia crew we ran our second major fundraiser at the iMedia Summit in Austin, Texas. Here the Digital Media industry officially “adopted” the TDF as their cause.
The foundation was covered by NY Times, Fox News and a great national piece ran in October “Making a Difference” by NBC Nightly News. 2007 ended with our first heart surgeries (2 blue babies) and began our fantastic relationship with Brenda McFerrin and her team at Children in Need International. Thanks to Shawn Hekking, our Second Annual Holiday Cocktail Fundraiser was hosted by Reuters in the beautiful downtown headquarters overlooking Times Square in NYC.
This was a pivotal year and we finally got all our paperwork and 501 (c) (3) status approved by the IRS. This year we finally began to get real systems and processes in place. We made numerous connections with military deployed overseas and shipped over $40,000 in school supplies, over $50,000 of medical supplies, and $5,000 in vitamins. We expanded our efforts to include Afghanistan instead of focusing solely on Iraq. We also added quite a few organizations to our growing network including Gift of Life Amman, Iraqi Children’s Project, Shriners Hospitals and Our Chance International. This year we also conducted our first Heart Mission for 5 children organized by CINI and run by volunteer medical staff from Riley’s Children hospital who flew into Amman Jordan for more than week and conducted surgeries around the clock for over a week straight.
Tom visited many schools and volunteers began to find us on the web. Two eighth graders Olivia English in Florida and Eva Dice in New Jersey did drives at their local schools. We also worked with two different Eagles Scouts James Birkenstamm in New Jersey and Brian McManimon in Massachusetts. Brian started in Fall 2007 and by May 2008 Brian’s backpacked arrived in Baghdad.
2008 ended with our Annual Holiday Cocktail Fundraiser hosted this year by Google thanks to the efforts of Chris Theodorus another digital media veteran. As a special treat, Army LTC Paul Morrissey, M.D. bought a few surprise guests – our little friends – some of the children and families we helped.
Over the next few years, our charity and fundraising efforts continued full speed. We even shipped our first wheelchair, laptops, and portable generators. But over the years we also lost a few children before we could intervene including a young Afghan boy with Leukemia and another mid-flight enroute to LA Children’s Hospital. But rather than get frustrated or upset, it simply highlighted the importance of our work and how many times we represent that last hope, that last chance. It reminds us of the importance of being proactive and working with others to quickly identify those in need of help and working quickly to make it happen. Together with you, our supporters, and our network we strive to help as many as we can find with the motto “make a difference even one child, one family, one school at a time.”
We conducted Heart Missions all three years saving the lives of 14 children and also added to our network including The Assyrian Medical Society, The Afghan Orphan Project, and School is Open (visit our partners page).
Our fundraising efforts featured numerous golf outings set up by Brian Quinn, Mark Naples, Chris Hogan, and Matt Wasserlauf raising almost $80,000 across the four events. Thanks to Kirk McDonald and the indefatigable efforts of Natalie Sandoval, Time Inc Digital hosted not only the 2009 but the 2010 Holiday Cocktail Fundraiser parties raising over $125,000 across both years.
2012 and beyond…
As we head into 2012 and our sixth year of operations we are faced with new challenges and new opportunities. As the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down, our pool of potential volunteers has decreased. But, the good news is that the remaining forces are increasingly focused on helping the local populace including building their capacity to thrive and develop self-sustaining capabilities. Perhaps with the reduction of violence some of the professional middle class, medical professional in particular will return to their communities.
We thank everyone for their contributions, efforts, and support as we help the most innocent and needy to have the potential for a decent, safe, and peaceful future. The parents in these war torn nations want the same thing we all want for our children. They want a roof over their heads, food on the table, a place for kids to learn and grow, but most of all hope for a brighter and better future.
The foundation is registered with the IRS and is fully tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3). We were incorporated on July 30, 2007 and our Tax ID is #41-2255430.