The new ad features real members of the Military Mama Network group, created by Geriann Wiesbrook
An emotional new Facebook ad is highlighting how the social media platform is helping military families come together through thick and thin.
The ad, part of the new More Together campaign, shows just how far the reach of the group Military Mama Network spreads with a storyline involving a woman deployed for the holidays.
After FaceTiming her husband and three children back home as they prepare for Christmas, the woman hangs up and immediately heads to the group’s page, where she writes, “Deployed this Christmas, wish I were home to help my family.”
Her post is quickly flooded with comments, and soon, many of the group’s 15,000 members have come together to go shopping, organize decorations, knit and chop down trees in order to make Christmas as magical as can be for the woman’s family.
Eventually, her husband and children wake up to discover an elaborate winter wonderland set up in their living room, all thanks to the Military Mama Network.
Four actual group members feature in the ad, including group admin Geriann Wiesbrook, who appears briefly as a woman tossing another woman a big box out of the trunk of a car.
Wiesbrook, whose 28-year-old son Joseph is in the Army, tells PEOPLE she created the group in September 2013 after Joseph went to basic training.
It quickly took off, and Wiesbrook — who quit her full-time job three years ago to run it — says she’s grateful to have a place where people can “connect with people who really feel like they’re not so alone.”
Wiesbrook describes her project as a place “open 24/7, no matter what the day or the holiday,” where “we gather and say, ‘You are not alone.’”
“We’re together over the miles and in a crisis, no matter what happens or what comes, we’ll still be here,” Wiesbrook adds. “And we believe in you and we are family when no family can be by you.”
Over the years, the group has completed dozens of good deeds for fellow mamas in need, including the time a loved one was stranded in Tennessee, and a group member stepped up to pick him up, feed him and let his mother know he was okay.
They’ve also helped bury babies and veterans, providing funding for things like tombstones and travel costs.
“A lot of people believe that we’re separated by so many things. We’re not,” Wiesbrook says. “We’re connected by the heart. We’re connected by shared missions and we’re connected by community. And you can grow community on Facebook and take it off Facebook.”
Though Veteran’s Day will be celebrated on Monday, Wiesbrook, who is based in Joliet, Illinois, encourages those looking to help to expand beyond just one day per year, as she and her fellow military mamas work year-round.
“Every single day we do some kind of mission,” she says. “We need people who want to join our community because they believe in what we do and they want to give back, and we need financial supporters.”
To learn how to donate and support military families, you can join the Military Mama Network group on Facebook. A Facebook fundraiser organized by the group has so far raised more than $700 of its $20,000 goal.
Meanwhile, Facebook recently launched a Military and Veterans Hub, which “provides consolidated resources and tools for Veterans to build their community, find job opportunities or enhance digital skills through Facebook,” according to the company.