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Merion Mom Donates $15, Gets Call From President Obama

Sandy Swanson sent a letter to President Obama, and what followed is something she and her family will never forget.

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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A. Stokes September 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I wish folks with no personal knowledge of others' situations wouldn't make judgments. Ever think they don't own that house?
Mildred Roberts September 30, 2012 at 04:55 AM
When the economy collapses, it won't matter if you're liberal or conservative. However, it will be easy to tell the difference. The conservatives will be laughing and the liberals will be rioting. Remember the old saying... "Give a man a fish, and he'll riot for more free fish."
S.S. September 30, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Actually -- the real saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Clearly we all have different views of the world. I'll spend my life trying to feed and educate people...you spend your life eating fish.
Philabella October 01, 2012 at 12:04 PM
What a nice story (not including the obnoxious comments left by readers). Sally Swanson is absolutely an example of grass roots support and how no contribution (financial or otherwise) is insignificant. Regardless of your political views, it's an honor for the President to call you! And pizza too! Awesome!
Christine Dorian October 09, 2012 at 04:29 AM
You asked where I get my facts? I love the site Politifact to separate fact from fiction: It has a "truthometer" that tells you if politicians are telling the truth. Very eye-opening! For example, when Romney said in the debate that Obama doubled the deficit, that was completely false. In the explanation it said "So, far from doubling the deficit, Obama (along with, it should be noted, some Republican help in Congress) has instead reduced the deficit by about 8 percent." Obamacare will also reduce the deficit, not add to it. FYI, Obama was not entirely perfect on the truthometer either! I also like online sites like slate.com, huffington post, daily beast etc. They've all had articles about Romney's dishonesty in the debate. I also go to sites from economists (bi-partisan) who can explain in plain language presidents' economic policies, the deficit etc (By the way, it's so high due to a lethal combination of tax cuts and increased military spending by Bush, in addition to a Medicare drug program that he had no way to pay for -- so everything was basically put on a credit card.) I also found out our taxes are at a 60-year low. I encourage people to find unbiased info, instead of basing your vote on lies on Nov. 6. There's a lot of untruthful stuff being spewed out! Calling our government communist or socialist sounds like right-wing extremist rhetoric designed to scare people. Having a safety net for struggling folks hardly makes our govn't communist!

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