Woodcraft Marks 15th Year for Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon

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Many military personnel who receive pens turned at the Woodcraft Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon in November send thank-you notes like the ones pictured here.

US military personnel are still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all over the world, 15 years after Woodcraft sponsored its first Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon to say thank-you with handcrafted wood pens. The Turn-a-Thon began in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and two other targets.

Volunteers of all ages have joined Woodcraft employees sometime around Veterans Day weekend for the past 14 years to turn more than 160,000 unique pens that have been shipped to military men and women on active duty and recovering in rehabilitation centers.

The 2018 Turn-a-Thon is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 and is open to anyone interested in making a special pen for the military men and women who make personal sacrifices to defend and protect the US. In 2017, volunteers turned 12,661 pens.

“Woodcraft is very appreciative of all the volunteers who have participated in the Turn for Troops program over the years,” Woodcraft President/Chief Operating Officer Jack Bigger said. “We hope that our 2018 event will be our largest effort yet in support of the men and women who protect our nation, each and every day.”

Pens turned during the Woodcraft Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon reflect different choices of wood and the turners' techniques that make them unique.

To participate in the Turn-a-Thon, contact the Woodcraft store nearest you for more details. If you have never turned a pen but would like to participate in the turn-a-thon, check with your local Woodcraft store about whether first-time pen turning instructions will be provided the day of the turn-a-thon. 

You can also check out two Woodworking Adventures blogs that include instructions for how to turn pens: Pen Turning 101 and A Great Start for Basic Pen Turning.

Why Turn A Pen?

“The John S. McCain crew extends a sincere thank you for the pens you handcrafted and mailed to us through the Turn for Troops program. Each Sailor now carries a unique pen that we can call our own reminding us of the support we receive from home. Thank you for supporting our Sailors as we support our country.” – Written by M.D. Murphy, Commanding Officer, USS John S. McCain destroyer

“I received this pen while deployed to the Pacific and it went right to use in letting parents know the amazing job their children are doing and raising the spirit of caregivers.” – Written by a Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist at USNH Yokosuka, Japan

US soldiers in Iraq display pens handcrafted during the Woodcraft National Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon in 2017.

“Our Soldiers truly appreciate writing with the pens and also recognize the time and tremendous efforts that have been put into making these pens.” – Written by a chaplain on behalf of these Soldiers serving in Iraq.

Soldiers in Iraq try out their new wood pens from the Woodcraft Turn for Troops program.

“On behalf of the crew of the USS BOISE, I wanted to write to you to express our sincere appreciation for the breathtaking pens that you and your staff arranged with the Southwest Idaho Woodturners Association. We were delighted to receive them and will certainly put them to good use, whether it be taking notes or signing qualification cards”! – Written by C.M. Osborn, Commanding Officer, USS Boise (SSN 764) to Bill Caillet, former owner of the Virginia Beach, Virginia, Woodcraft store.

Crew members of the USS Boise submarine receive handcrafted wood pens from the Turn for Troops program.

Always Honor Our “Freedom Keepers”

Thank-you notes that are sent to Woodcraft after each Turn for Troops event reinforce the value of this project. It not only allows Woodcraft to say thank-you in a special way to military personnel, but it reminds the participants and anyone who hears about the program that we are free to live our lives as we see fit because thousands of other Americans are willing to make personal sacrifices to make that freedom a reality.

Say thank-you to the military personnel you know and to those you meet in public when you can.

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