The Scotland County Red Cross chapter, upon hearing from international chapters of a lull in care packages to the troops, joined with Post 50 and began collecting prepackaged snack items and toiletries in October.
“Any time that Post 50 can do anything for the troops or for our country today, we’re going to jump on that,” said Dan Skamperle, post commander. “We’re going to do anything we can to support our troops.”
Carol Ann Lentz, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter, worried about the project at first, as Red Cross efforts were directed to fallout from Superstorm Sandy.
“The first week was kind of slow, then it was one after the other: either a donation coming in for Sandy or a donation coming in for this,” said Lentz.
The drive ended last week, with local churches taking collections from among their members and many individuals dropping off everything from Oreos to fruit cups to deodorant at the Red Cross office.
“We are most grateful to the people of Scotland County for contributing and supporting the soldiers that are protecting our freedoms,” said Travis Stone, the Post 50 member and Army veteran who coordinated the project. “The biggest thing about freedom is that freedom’s not free, and for our soldiers out there fighting the enemy and terrorism and protecting our home front, supporting them is the best gift that we can give.”
On Tuesday, members of Post 50 packed all items collected to ship to Kuwait and Djibouti in time for Christmas, totalling 20 boxes weighing 832 pounds.
“It’s more than I ever hoped for,” Lentz said. “I kind of envisioned five or six boxes and it just started pouring in in trunkfuls and bags full.”
The show of affection and support from strangers back home, in addition to gifts from family members, has the power to boost morale among deployed military members.
“It’s just like a kid at Christmastime opening a gift, you’d be surprised,” said Stone. “Soldiers know that somebody’s sending it from home and it’s a great feeling for them to receive something knowing it’s from love and that someone cares enough about them to send it.”