WAXHAW – A local group has united to adopt Army and Navy units deployed to Afghanistan with the goal of sending care packages to demonstrate love and encouragement to the men and women serving abroad.
The group hopes that if they can generate enough interest and donations, they can adopt two more units, possibly Marine and Air Force units, so that each branch is represented.
The first unit Waxhaw adopted is Naval Task Group Trident. Trident is a subordinate unit of Task Force Protector, the unit responsible for the secure and humane care, custody and control of all detainees in the detention facility in Parwan – otherwise known as the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. Task Group Trident was trained from January to March at Fort Bliss in New Mexico and has been deployed since March.
The second unit is the Army National Guard 151st Combat Engineer Company mobilized out of North Carolina. The 151st deployed in June to replace the 883rd Engineer Company of the 105th Engineer Battalion, tasked with clearing roads used as supply and patrol routes for coalition forces. More than 40 percent of the company has deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan previously.
“It’s roughly 350 soldiers, total,” said Jody Sitton, member of the group organizing the effort. “Waxhaw is a very patriotic town!“
The town is asking residents to contact their friends and family for any kind of donation for the care packages and has outlined a list of suggestions (aerosol, glass items and anything containing alcohol are not permitted).
All donations are due by the first week of November, so units will receive all packages by Christmas. Acceptable items include: Food items like individual packages of crackers, cookies, protein bars, beef jerky, candy that won’t melt, powdered drink mixes, seasonings and spices; toiletries like deodorant, soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, floss, disposable razors, towelettes or wipes, sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellent wipes with DEET, hand or food warmers and especially socks; miscellaneous items like decks of cards, puzzle books, note card-size stationary, pens, DVDs, magazines and paperback books.
“These are items that are not easy to find, or quickly consumed,” said Scott Farb, a member of the group of citizens heading the effort and a member of the Sons of the American Legion at Waxhaw Post 208.
Sitton said Waxhaw is a town that truly cares for its troops.
“Lots of local citizens have a heart for helping those who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect our freedoms and serve our country,” she said.
Sitton said the Waxhaw Business Association has jumped on board and has applied to be a part of USA Today’s Make a Difference Day on Oct. 27. They’ll broadcast live that day on the Land of Waxhaw’s collection of donations for care packages at the American Legion Military Wall of Honor on East North Main Street in Waxhaw.
“After attending a wonderful 9/11 memorial event completely organized by local citizens and business owners and hearing the words of Alex, we were inspired to join forces and adopt his unit.”
Farb said it was the organization of the September 11 memorial service and Sitton posting photos of her friend, Alex Cadiz – deployed with Task Group Trident – on Facebook, that inspired the efforts.
“Very quickly a small group of people thought of doing something to support the unit, such as sending care packages, and in several hours the project went from concept to full-blown project,” Farb said.
The group is asking residents, Sunday school classes, Scout troops and anyone else to write letters, draw pictures and make cards for the deployed service members, who appreciate notes of love, hope and encouragement. If the notes include a self-addressed envelope, the writer may receive a response.
Another member of the group, Donna Cox, has organized an event to send care packages to service members overseas previously, Farb said.
“Waxhaw is a very patriotic town, with residents from many backgrounds and geographic areas living here,” he said.
As part of the effort to support the project, and in honor of Veterans Day, the First Friday event in Waxhaw on Nov. 2 will have a patriotic theme, Farb said.
“People attending the event will be able to stop at any of several stations and fill out a card which will be sent as part of the care package project,” he said.
In addition, the Land of the Waxhaws program is starting a new segment called “Heroes’ Voices,” Farb said, which will record and broadcast online the stories of veterans who live in the area. The show will be recorded every other Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Southsiders Public House in downtown Waxhaw. The first show was recorded Thursday, Oct. 4; the next is set for Oct. 18.
For more information on Waxhaw Supports Our Troops, visit www.waxhaw.com or email Jody Sitton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Heroes’ Voices, go to www.ustream.tv/recorded/25769203 or email Karen Johnson at WVBorn86@earthlink.net.
For information on supporting past and present service members and their families in the North Carolina area, go to www.uso-nc.org.