WHO: Houston-based, San Antonio-raised writer Shea Serrano and Fort Bliss-based army publicist Dan Balda.
WHAT: The two paired up to send copies of Serrano’s Basketball and Other Things to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Serrano’s profile has skyrocketed over the past few years. Five years ago, he was contributing to the now-defunct Houston Press. Today, he’s a bestselling author, staff writer at Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, and beloved Twitter personality with television projects in the works with both Questlove and the Roots and The Office and Parks & Recreation creator Mike Schur. It’s easy to root for him, because he uses his growing platform to be generous and community-minded. In 2015, at Christmas, he celebrated the unexpected success of his breakthrough The Rap Year Book by passing out $100 bills to fast food workers in Houston. During Hurricane Harvey, he continued using his platform to raise money and help people in need get the attention they required. This year, as Basketball and Other Things cemented him as one of our most insightful culture writers (and earned him a place on Barack Obama’s “best books he read in 2017” recommendations, as well as the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list), he’s spreading the joy by getting copies to members of the military.
A fan reached out to Serrano via Twitter to ask him how to send copies to the military; Serrano asked for advice, and Army publicist Dan Balda responded with an address at Fort Bliss. Other Twitter users quickly got involved, ordering copies on Amazon to send to Balda and asking if he could facilitate getting the books to people serving in other branches of the military, which he assured them he could.
All of this went down about a week ago. Six days later, stacks of packages started rolling in to Fort Bliss, and Balda tweeted a photo of his team with the books headed for soldiers and other service members.
Serrano’s personal generosity has been impressive. Explaining why he was giving away $100 bills at Christmas, he wrote that “a bunch of dope stuff has happened for my family and me this year. And I’m sure much as the boys would like an extra $533 worth of gifts, they don’t need them. They have enough.” But even more notably, he’s built a “FOH Army” (we’ll let you Google the acronym) that inspires further generosity from others and makes charitable giving go viral. Right now, that means a lot of people who serve in the military will get a book about basketball from perfect strangers. If you want to join the party, books (Serrano’s, or someone else’s, if you prefer) can be delivered to:
24th Press Camp Headquarters
C/O SFC Dan Balda
21100 Medic Ave
Fort Bliss, TX, 79918