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The Letter That Earned A Call From The President

Sandy Swanson's letter to President Obama is reprinted below.

Merion mother of two Sandy Swanson recently wrote a letter to President Obama after making a $15 campaign donation. Three weeks ago, while putting together dinner, she got a call from the president himself thanking her for the letter and her donation.

Read more about that call and her reaction here.

Swanson's full letter is reprinted below.

Dear President Obama,

I'm writing to tell you about the $15 my family just donated to your 2012 campaign.

It was $15. That's really all we could give.

My husband Steve is currently a student at Temple University. Since starting his degree, three years ago, we've been living considerably below the poverty level (I keep forgetting which percent ... does it matter?). But we aren't complaining. Two healthy daughters; dusty, well-travelled backpacks in the basement; a house full of memories -- a future full of hope. We're the lucky ones.

So -- we're currently "poor on money -- rich in life" (as we like to say). It hasn't always been like this. My husband spent most of his life doing what he loved -- playing or coaching basketball. Born in SE Iowa, he was an Academic All-American and once-upon-two-good-knees-ago, the "local town hero" of his small town -- after bringing home the State Championship during high school, followed by NJCAA National Championship years later as a coach. He's a big a fan of yours by the way ... as a player, father and president ... not necessarily in that order. 

But this really wasn't supposed to be a letter about him.

It's about this year's campaign. It's about wanting to say that $15 means something these days and deserves a moment of pause (and some words on paper) for this girl and her family of Obama fans.

     -- $15 is a special pizza dinner at our local pizza stop (Poppi's in Wynnewood).
     -- It's 1 1/2 tickets to see the newest film at the old-school cinema we walk our daughters to.
     -- It's getting fresh fruit, instead of frozen; fresh veg, instead of canned.
     -- It's tickets to the Franklin Institute in the heart of Philly. (We've never been.)

It's all these things to a family like ours.

I've listened with curiosity, mostly frustration, as the nation debates Citizens' United and the string of new laws that now allow the bellowing voices of private interest to drown out the sounds of tiny voices (like ours/mine). Our pebble-in-the-ocean support feels almost pointless. "Leave the campaigns to the rich," I think to myself, "Get your daughters a pizza instead."

But I refuse to allow new laws to stop us/me from being A PART of this campaign. After all, I will never be a "player" (in the political sense), but I still want to believe I can play a part.

Then, out of the blue, there you are -- shooting a jumpshot on my (Facebook) wall -- and asking for "players" to join you on your home court. I had to smile, and then I couldn't resist. And so, I have relinquished those $15.

Please know that they count. To us. Please stay in Washington. Do, in this second term, what you were not assisted/supported to do during your first term. Get this country moving/working/hoping again.

Please continue being a champion for the middle class -- I'm hoping the next pizza will be on you.

Wishes to your brave wife and beautiful daughters from another brave wife with two beautiful daughters.

All good things,

Sandy & Family, PA

Nancy Herman September 28, 2012 at 12:10 PM
What a beautiful heartfelt letter. No wonder the President called. The best of luck to you Sandy. You have inspired me to make another donation to this campaign.
Sunny Epstein September 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I really think that someone who lives in a $252,000 home in Merion is not poor?? Let us be realistic. One can go to school and work at the sametime. Housewives can work , too. I know lots of womwn , who are single moms. They work and go to school.
Lina September 28, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Wow, Sunny you are such a HATER. Do you even know what you're talking about? Working and going to school at the same time with a family is a HUGE sacrifice. I'm glad "you KNOW lots of woman who are single moms" I don't know what that has to do with any of this. The fact that the President took the time to respond with a PHONE CALL says a lot. Lets focus on that.
Raji Mohan September 28, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Sandy, This is an eloquent letter not only because it describes your life in detail, but speaks to the aspirations, sacrifices, and values of so many middle class families. I am bowled over by the fact that our president recognized this and called you; I'm made so hopeful knowing that our country has thoughtful citizens like you.
Christine Dorian September 29, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Sunny, wow, your bitterness is so apparent. I can't imagine responding negatively to this story, unless you don't have a heart. I'm inspired to get more involved and volunteer because of this story. Thanks, Sandy.
Courtney September 29, 2012 at 01:30 PM
This letter was amazing and brave. We too are from The same neighborhood and even though it's Lower merion please don't think people don't struggle. We are on the Lower end of income and don't own our home. What should we do Sunny, uproot our kids to another area? Obviously she said she has it all but financially it's hard to keep up. It's disgusting that you could knock this letter. Clearly jealousy that she's getting attention . Shame on you Sunny
Margaret Meyers September 30, 2012 at 11:31 PM
The Swansons are sweet neighbors who live in a 6 room twin up the street, Sunny. I don't know if they own or rent. One car, nothing fancy going on there. She's a hardworking woman who cares, and one of 10 million people who have made the donation they can afford to make to the Obama campaign. A lot of people who live in our community are living the low-budget end of the American Dream: they may not have much left over, but they can just afford to live in a safe neighborhood with good schools. A lot of people don't get that chance.
John Hamilton October 01, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Is it just me, or is there something calculated about this? The letter is more than eloquent, it's a rhetorical masterpiece. If he hasn't already, Obama should hire this woman to write for him.
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