Q&A with Tim Virgilio from Signatures for Soldiers

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Tim Virgilio has been collecting cards since the early 80’s. He has used that passion for collecting and combined it with another passion that he has for military veterans to provide an awesome level of assistance to charities with that focus. While having no personal military experience, his father served in the Air Force so he knows a thing or two about the sacrifice and commitment of the members of our Armed Forces. His current employment has also seen him spend 12 years working with military veterans. So in when Tim started Signatures For Soldiers in November 2014, he had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to accomplish.

JS – Hello Tim, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Before we get into Signatures for Soldiers, tell us a little more about you. How long have you been collecting and what helped introduce you to the hobby?


TV – First, thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk more about Signatures For Soldiers. I’ve been collecting cards for as long as I can remember, more than 35 years. Some of my earliest memories are opening packs of baseball cards that a family friend would bring when he and his wife would visit the house to have dinner with my family. I’ve been collecting autographs for nearly 30 years. I remember watching a baseball game with my father and as usual, we were talking about players he grew up watching. He started talking about getting autographs from players outside Yankee Stadium and sending pictures to the players through the mail to sign. This piqued my interest and this is what started me with collecting autographs. Collecting cards and autographs was always a great way for my father and I to spend time together talking about baseball and about the players.


JS – At what point did you decide that you could do more than just collect cards and get involved with a greater cause? What made you choose the military, or veterans more specifically, as your beneficiary?


TV – Like many kids in the 1980’s, as I collected, I dreamt of the large amount of money I would one day make when I eventually sold my collection. I can remember thinking to myself that one day I’d like to sell my collection and have the money go to some type of charitable organization. As I grew older, I did less collecting of cards as my interest in other things took shape. But I always kept some interest in cards and autographs. Eventually, I had to choose a career path and got into counseling, which I’ve done for the past 20+ years. This career path eventually led to a career working with veterans. As I worked more with veterans, it became apparent that there was a larger need beyond the need for counseling.

JS – Can you explain to our readers exactly what Signatures for Soldiers is and what you do for this cause?


TV – Signatures For Soldiers is my own personal effort to raise money and awareness for Military Missions In Action and their work with disabled veterans. Through Signatures For Soldiers, I seek out athletes to sign items for me (cards, photos, balls, just about anything) and then sell the items with 100% of the money going directly to Military Missions In Action.

JS – Could you take a moment and explain what MMIA is and how you got involved with them?


TV – Military Missions In Action is a registered 501(c)3 that is based in North Carolina. MMIA provides home repairs and remodels to disabled military veterans and disabled children of active duty military personnel at no cost to the recipients or their families. MMIA also supports homeless veterans by attending Homeless Stand Downs to provide clothing and hygiene items. MMIA also assists homeless veterans who have secured safe housing by providing furnishings for their new home to include, but not be limited to: beds, bedding, dressers, couches/loveseats, kitchen tables/chairs, cookware, dishes, silverware, and food/gift cards. This is due to the fact that very often, these men and women only have the clothes on their backs and the bags they are carrying. This allows their new housing to feel like home. Finally, MMIA provides care packages to deployed military personnel. Since being founded in January 2008, MMIA has provided over $10 million worth of services while keeping their annual administrative costs between 3-5%.

In September of 2007, my wife and I moved to North Carolina where a month later we met Mike Dorman, who told us about his idea to start a non-profit to help disabled veterans with home repairs and remodels. Military Missions In Action then stood up officially in January of 2008 and we’ve been involved with MMIA since that time, having served as volunteers, fundraisers, members of the Board of Directors, and now serving on the Advisory Board.


JS – What were some of the early challenges to getting Signatures For Soldiers up and running?


TV – Looking back on the start of Signatures For Soldiers, I think that the biggest challenge I had was helping players understand what I was trying to do and convincing them that this effort wasn’t a “cash grab” for me. In the early part of this effort, I often had to follow up multiple times with players to get a response to my inquiry to help. The other challenge that I’ve had is trying to balance my work and personal life with this part of my charity work. This whole effort has grown and evolved into something I don’t think I could have ever imagined.

JS – Can you compare when you first started to now? How have you grown and evolved with your effort?


TV – When I first started Signatures For Soldiers, I hadn’t given it a name and my goal was to raise about $500 over time. It started with a handful of signed cards to now comprising literally thousands of signed cards. When I first started, I tried to focus on players who may not be very well known to people outside of the autograph collecting community. Now, as this effort has grown and evolved, I’ve been reaching out to players who are more well known to ask for assistance. With the number of years that I have behind this, I feel like it has more legitimacy, which helps. I’ve also tried to become more creative with my efforts to reach out to others and spread the word about Signatures For Soldiers.


JS – When it comes to growth, I understand that you just hit a major milestone and passed $25,000 in donations. That is an amazing number for someone who started this process all by themselves and used their own free time and money to operate. How does it feel to have reached this type of success; both personally and as a philanthropist?


TV – It is surreal. As I’ve stated previously, I started out with the goal of $500. Once I passed that number, I set a goal of $3000, which is the average cost for materials to build a wheelchair ramp. After passing that goal, I simply stopped setting numbers as goals. I’ve just allowed it to evolve naturally with the goal of simply raising whatever money I can raise for a great charity.


Personally, Signatures For Soldiers has become a big part of who I am. I take great pride in what I’ve accomplished through this platform and continue to accomplish. To be able to support an organization like MMIA this way has been so satisfying for me personally. Plus, I get to have a ton of fun doing it. Signatures For Soldiers has allowed me to meet some great people who I would not have otherwise met.


One of the things that I always remind myself is that I haven’t done this alone. Over the past three years, I’ve had over 400 athletes sign items for SFS. I’ve had hundreds of collectors who’ve donated signed and unsigned cards to help as well. I’m extremely grateful to each and every person who has helped with this effort.


JS – Of course, even reaching $25,000, I know that you aren’t taking any breaks or considering your mission complete. What do you have going on in 2018 as you continue your efforts?


TV – I’ve really had to challenge myself to continue to be creative and allow Signatures For Soldiers to grow. This year is really the first year that I’ve started to reach out to some fellow collectors to “recruit” them for my SFS Team. This core team, along with myself, will be the ones reaching out to players, asking for support for SFS. This is really a leap of faith for me as I’ve been really protective of SFS and wanted to maintain as much control as I could over “the brand”. So far, I’ve had some great support from this core of collectors and will look to further expand as the need arises.

Some other things that I am currently working on include attending The National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, OH. Thanks to a generous offer to be their guest at The National, GTS Distribution will be allowing me to set up a table in their case breaking area to promote SFS and help continue to raise money for MMIA. I’m super excited for this opportunity.

One of my other goals is to continue to expand the availability of other sports besides baseball, which has been my primary focus. Fellow collectors have really helped in this area as I’ve received thousands of signed cards, relic cards, and other chase cards from different sports from collectors.


JS – I noticed on Twitter that a new page called Signatures for Soldiers (Hockey) has just been created. What can you tell me about that?


TV – As I stated a moment ago, I’ve been reaching out to fellow collectors to see what their level of interest in becoming more involved with SFS is. One of these collectors, William, is a collector of hockey cards and autographs. Since this is an area that I don’t have much knowledge about, William started the SFS Hockey page to begin highlighting hockey autographs and cards that are available to help raise money for MMIA. This is a new venture and currently is a work in progress. I’m really hoping that this will take off and be another avenue to help raise money and awareness for MMIA.

I’d really like to see how this does and perhaps we will be looking to start a Basketball, Football, and NASCAR/Racing page in the future.


JS – Can you tell the readers how they can get involved with Signatures for Soldiers or MMIA?


TV – I’ve been asked this question quite a bit. To get involved with Signatures For Soldiers, anyone can reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter, or email and we can discuss some ways to get involved. Some of the most common ways are to donate both signed and unsigned cards, as I use unsigned cards for numerous things, including selling them to raise money for MMIA and using them to get signed by players. It really doesn’t matter what sport or year the cards are, I will find a way to use them to help raise money. Another way is to donate items that I use most often, such as stamps, envelopes (mostly padded envelopes), blue Sharpies, and blue painters tape. Follow Signatures For Soldiers on Twitter and Facebook and just help spread the word about what SFS is all about. It’s become a fun supportive community.

As for getting involved with Military Missions In Action, they obviously can always use money to help support their work. However, they are always looking for in-kind donations such as tools, building supplies, items to provide to homeless veterans (hygiene products, toilet paper, nail clippers, socks and other clothing items) as well as items to include in care packages for deployed military personnel (food items, hygiene items). A great way to be on the lookout for their needs is through their Facebook page. My wife and I are currently working with them to set up an Amazon page where supporters can view the list of most needed items, order and pay for the items, and then have the items sent directly to MMIA. This will hopefully be live very soon.


JS – Thanks Tim! I commend your efforts and know that you are excited to continue spreading the message for Signature for Soldiers and MMIA. Is there anything you would like to add?


TV – The only thing that I have left to say is thank you. To you and to everyone who has supported my Signatures For Soldiers effort over the past 3+ years. This has truly been an incredible journey that I know would not have been possible without the wonderful support that I’ve received. Thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit about what I’m doing to help our Nation’s heroes.


Signatures for Soldiers

Tim Virgilio


Facebook – @Signaturesforsoldiers

Twitter – @Sigs4Soldiers



When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Joey Shiver

Joey began collecting in 1988, at the age of 11. He’s an avid collector of Football, Baseball and Basketball and has a particular interest in Atlanta and UGA Sports. He’s also never met a Ron Gant card he didn’t like! If you have a great local card shop or want to reach out to Joey, you can find him on Twitter and Instagram or by email.

The Beckett Online Price Guide

The largest and most complete database in the industry. Period. Join the hundreds of thousands of collectors who have benefited from the OPG.

Subscribe Now

The Beckett Marketplace

Over 129 million cards
from 70+ dealers

Shop Now

Leave a reply

We use cookies to help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience. By navigating the site, you agree to the use of cookies to collect information. Read our Cookie Policy.
Accept & Close