TODAY   |  November 22, 2012

Girl sends thousands of letters to soldiers overseas

When 11-year-old Savannah Maddison Ogden’s friend’s father was deployed to Afghanistan, she began a letter-writing campaign to cheer up soldiers. A year later, Ogden has inspired dozens of other kids to join her, sending thousands of letters to battalions stationed half a world away. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> as you sit down for thanksgiving dinner today with your family, don't forget thousands of u.s. soldiers serving overseas can't be with theirs. one special 11-year-old girl from weston, florida, never forgets. and she's making a big difference in the lives of soldiers half way around the world. her story now from nbc's kerry sanders .

>> at this time, would you guys please bring up the letters that you have written?

>> reporter: 11-year-old savannah madison has sent thousands of letters to the military serving in afghanistan .

>> and thanks to schools like you guys, we can do this amazing thing to support our soldiers and our military.

>> reporter: it all began a year ago when savannah 's best friend told savannah her dad was being deployed to afghanistan .

>> and it was kind of like, whoa, what? because i didn't think for an entire year, i can't imagine my parents going away for that long. that would just crush me. how do you make it through the day

>> so savannah wrote a song for her best friend .

>> we sat and thought about it and i said, well, we need to do more than this. is there anything we can do? and we came up with savannah 's soldiers.

>> reporter: she started a letter writing campaign for soldiers being deployed with wilson's dad.

>> i thought, oh, how are we going to send 700 letters to afghanistan ? she would get kids over and they would start writing letters and sit around the table and it would be 30, 40 letters they would come up with, in a week maybe. and i thought we've got a long way to go.

>> reporter: but savannah was determined and started speaking at schools, even going to miami marlins games to get more kids to write letters.

>> they say all kinds of cute things. the little kids, they write the cutest letters because they don't know -- they're not the best spellers. instead of country they'll write crunchry.

>> savannah and her family will sort through the letters and then mail them to battalions stationed half a world away .

>> anything from home always makes you feel good. when you get a letter from a little kid that, you know, is telling you good job and we're thinking of you, thank you, it -- you can't explain it.

>> helps with the morale, helps them get through the tough situations they're dealing with in afghanistan .

>> some soldiers take photos with savannah 's letters and show their gratitude on her facebook page.

>> the best is they're always smiling. they're always like holding up the letters with a smile on their face. it's really -- it's really amazing to see that we're doing great thing. it's working.

>> now savannah hopes kids in schools in all 50 states will join her letter-writing campaign.

>> she does a really good job of speaking and communicating with the kids, extremely proud of her.

>> she's just passionate about it. and she loves what she's doing.

>> reporter: for the soldiers, the letters are a touching tribute from a little girl with a big heart.

>> savannah madison is my hero. she's made a difference in my life. and i appreciate her.

>> you have really, really blessed me, blessed the soldiers that are still over there.

>> you're awesome, thank you very much.

>> kerry sanders , nbc news, miami.

>> what an amazing little girl . why do i get the feeling we're going to hear from her some day.

>> she's going to be the next savannah .

>> pretty poised.

>> amazing. and we are thinking of those troops who can't be with their loved ones