It wasn't a huge sum, but for Merion mom Sandy Swanson, the $15 she donated to President Obama's campaign in August was still a sacrifice.
The donation seemed almost pointless in the scheme of things—"pebble-in-the-ocean support," she later called it. But for the stay-at-home-mom of two and her family—living below the poverty line while her husband Steve studies at Temple University—that $15 could have been spent on a lot of things.
So when the family opted to use their pizza money to donate to the president's campaign, Swanson decided to let the president know.
She'd never written a letter to a president before. But it was a quiet evening, the kids were asleep, her husband was working on his dissertation, and, Swanson decided, why not?
She wrote the letter—which talks about her family's love for Poppi's Pizza, her husband's hard work, and her support for the Obama campaign—mailed it off, and went about her business.
“It seemed far-fetched that it would do anything, besides get lost in a huge basket of mail,” she told Patch this week.
So when Swanson got an odd phone call three weeks ago while making dinner, she didn't think much of it. Assuming it was a solicitation call, she was only half listening—at least, until she heard some key phrases, like "Air Force One."
And then the kicker: "Please hold for the President."
"The classic line you never imagine anyone saying to you," Swanson laughed, still sounding a bit shocked. "At that point, I'm sure I must have said yes, but I don’t remember."
President Obama thanked Swanson for her grassroots support, and told her he'd read the letter and knew about the block party she was planning to help get out the vote in her neighborhood.
"He said all these ridiculous complimentary things about being the perfect example of who this campaign is—I felt very undeserving hearing all that from the president," Swanson said.
And also on that call—which Obama made the same week of all the upheaval in Libya and North Africa, Swanson noted—the president took the time to say hello to her husband and her two young daughters, thanking them, too, for their support.
"It was totally surreal," Swanson recalled.
Swanson will be hosting a block party in her Merion neighborhood this Sunday to encourage election involvement and educate neighbors on Voter ID law requirements, and Obama campaign members will be available to answer questions. There will be free ice cream, lemonade and pizza—the latter of which will be provided by Poppi's, Swanson's favorite pizza place.
Speaking of pizza: as if talking to the president weren't enough, the Obama campaign also had a pizza delivered to the Swansons' home for their daughter's sixth birthday.
"It was the coolest pizza I've ever eaten," Swanson said.
Read Swanson's full letter to President Obama here.
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