WAXHAW – Locals turned out Saturday, Oct. 27, to show their support for United States servicemembers by writing cards and notes and donating to care packages volunteers hope to have sent to their adopted units in time for the holidays.
The town is partnered with Naval Task Group Trident, deployed to Afghanistan since March, and Army National Guard 151st Combat Engineer Company, mobilized out of North Carolina. The town has adopted about 350 soldiers, total, according to volunteer and one of the organizers of the effort, Jody Sitton.
Saturday’s turnout was better than expected, given the weather conditions.
“Despite the grey day, we had a nice turnout of some very generous people stopping by to donate and write a letter to send to the troops,” Sitton said.
Flags Across the Nation, a nonprofit that focuses on supplying cards and letters to deployed servicemembers and makes quilts for wounded servicemembers recovering at VA hospitals across the country, assisted Waxhaw’s volunteers in their efforts on Saturday.
“Another unexpected blessing was a motorcycle run ending up directly across the street from the American Legion Military Wall of Honor at Southsiders,” Sitton said. “Most of the riders were veterans themselves or had family who are or have served, and they graciously passed the hat to raise a little cash to help offset postage costs.”
Sitton said the group is very pleased with donations that have come in so far, but said they are still short of funds and a few supplies.
“One item we are currently short of is baby wipes – the soft-sided or refill type,” she said. “We also need either a sponsor for postage, as it will be quite a bit, or more monetary donations for the same. We are talking with someone who’s trying to get his company to sponsor that, but nothing is concrete yet.”
The group will be passing flyers at the Warriors and Warbirds Airshow this weekend, Sitton said.
“We will have card and treat bag stations set up in downtown Waxhaw this week on First Friday for children to decorate cards or decorate a treat bag that they can fill for our two adopted (units).”
Sitton said the group is aiming to have the letters, cards and care packages packed on the weekend of Nov. 10, and will hold a “packing day” that weekend.
“We will spread the word as soon as we firm that up,” she said.
Karen Johnson, another volunteer and organizer, said there were six large boxes full of care package items by the end of the day, and volunteers had raised around $176 toward shipping costs.
“They had a great collection,” Johnson said. “We had several donations and a few kids who came and wrote letters to the soldiers.”
Waxhaw is asking its 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 full week of November so the 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.
For more information or to donate to the Waxhaw Supports Our Troops effort, go to www.waxhaw.com or email Jody Sitton at email@example.com.
For information on supporting past and present servicemembers and their families in North Carolina, go to www.uso-nc.org.