DETROIT — Founded in 2001 as “The Anti-Group for Information Technology Professionals,” is no longer content to just provide the best networking opportunities for metro Detroit IT professionals, and now asks that you join them as they hold a special year-end event to help local Michigan military families.

With nearly 3,000 members in their LinkedIn group and over 1,000 unique visitors per day on their Web site at, they’re doing what they can to help spread the word about this special event, but need your help as well.

The event will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Dragonmead Brewery in Warren, and is combining the year-end holiday celebration for the group with a request for donations.

These are local soldiers currently in Afghanistan, along with their families still here in the area. After discussions with someone from the group who was just there recently, a list of items that would be of the most benefit to them includes:

* Candy/gum/jerky. Nothing chocolate because…duh…it melts in transit.
* SMALL (read that again: “SMALL”) containers of baby wipes (it’s dusty)
* iTunes gift cards
* Tooth brushes and/or SMALL (again – “SMALL”) containers of toothpaste
* Crossword puzzle books – the little ones. You know, the size that would fit in the pockets of cargo pants. * Ear buds. Apparently they break, get destroyed and clogged up constantly.  Also…hard to find in Afghanistan.

Now, if you’re feeling particularly generous, and you’ve got an extra old (functional…) iPod, Shuffle, or something along those lines laying around…that would be huge. Again, they tend to break, get destroyed, and get all clogged up with sand constantly. Also again…fairly hard to find in Afghanistan.

If none of that’s jumping right out at you, why not pick up a gift card or a gift certificate to a local restaurant so that the families of these guys can get a break and go out to dinner?  Got a connection to a local spa or hair place?  Nag them and let’s do something nice for the ones still state-side that basically get turned into single parents while their significant other is off protecting our collective ass. The burden on those that remain here is a huge one. The life of a military family yes, is the one that they’ve chosen…but that’s all the more reason that we should do something to help when and where we can.

Said founder Bob Waltenspiel: “What started as a networking group designed to find like-minded people in the IT industry has truly evolved now into an organization that helps make things happen in the metro Detroit area.”

Co-Founder Dave Phillips added: “Our recent event with Goodtimes for Gleaners was a great start, but we’re really committed to giving back to the area, the community, and helping things get better as much as possible with our upcoming events.  These are the people that make it possible for us to safely sit back and whine about ‘That Guy’ coming to our events as the worst thing in our day.”

Added the organization’s “Resident Voice of Reason,” Jeff Mackey: “Freedom isn’t free.  These people put their lives on the line for us each and every day, and their families bear the burden of that reality. It’s only natural that we do what we can to help them in even just this simple, small way.”

Details on the group and all events are available at


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