WAXHAW – After weeks of gathering and packing, volunteers in Waxhaw have shipped the first of 475 care packages to Afghanistan just in time for the holidays.
Not only did the group reach their mark of 250 packages for Naval Task Group Trident, deployed since March, and 100 packages for Army National Guard 151st Combat Engineer Company, deployed since June, but the group also was able to adopt a third unit. Army A Troop, 2nd Squadron, First Cavalry Regiment will get 125 packages, too.
The new unit adopted by the town’s Waxhaw Supports Our Troops effort includes a Waxhaw resident, according to volunteer Jody Sitton.
“Brandon is the future son-in-law of Waxhaw employee Marion Morton,” Sitton explained. “He is a 2010 Parkwood High School grad. He just got to Afghanistan and his unit will be receiving the extra care packages.”
The packages contain cards and letters written by Waxhaw residents, as well as items the service members have a hard time getting without help from home. That includes food items, such as individual packages of crackers, cookies, protein bars, beef jerky, candy that won’t melt, powdered drink mixes, seasonings and spices; toiletries, such as deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, disposable razors, towelettes or wipes, sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellent wipes with DEET, hand or foot warmers and especially socks; and miscellaneous items, such as decks of cards, puzzle books, note card-size stationary, pens, DVDs, magazines and paperback books.
“All will arrive in time for Christmas,” Sitton said. “Everyone was extremely generous and we were thrilled to have extra. It was wonderful to be able to bring a little cheer to another unit for the holidays.”
Scott Farb, another volunteer, said he’s very proud of everyone’s efforts on the project.
“The project greatly exceeded our expectations,” Farb said. “This was a great project, with support coming from all over Union County.”
The group collected nearly everything needed, while learning some lessons along the way. The know now to get more chapstick and eye drops in the future, since those are things particularly handy in the dry climate in Afghanistan. But the volunteers know it’s not only practical things the service members badly need.
“And of all the things we received, by far the most interesting items were the cards that came from the kids,” Farb said. “They were simply awesome to read.”
For Farb, the response from Waxhaw and other local towns was amazing. And though he knows the service members would love multiple care packages during the year, Farb said the “exhausting” effort may keep the project only a holiday tradition.
“People were so generous; it was very heartwarming to see how much our deployed troops are cared for by our citizens,” Farb said. “I am absolutely looking forward to doing this again next Christmas. Jody (Sitton) and Donna (Cox) did so much for the project and they deserve a mountain of credit for collecting items, moving them, storing them and packing them. It was amazing to work with the two of them.”
The project meant a lot to Farb personally. He has family members and friends who have been touched by receiving care packages while they served in the military. He just hopes troops know how much they’re appreciated.
“Even in this day of instant communication and streaming news feeds, it’s easy to forget how much our military members sacrifice for us and our allies,” he said. “We need to let them know we remember them and are constantly keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.
Waxhaw Mayor Pro Tem Erin Kirkpatrick said she was proud of the town. She especially pointed out Sitton’s work and that of others at Waxhaw Bible Church.
“Well, that’s why I love living in Waxhaw,” she said. “We are a real community with a heart. Waxhaw residents band together to help others and we appreciate our servicemen and women. The letters written to the servicemen and women are so touching.”
Donna Cox, who volunteered with the effort, said she’s thrilled about the results of weeks of hard work, especially in light of having a servicemember for a nephew.
“I am so excited we were able to send a bit of Christmas cheer to so many serving during the holiday season,” Cox said. “I am on cloud nine this week as I see pictures on Facebook of my nephew and his family decorating their home. (It’s) the first Christmas he is home in four years!”
For Sitton, the project was a long time coming, but the results made it worthwhile.
“I’m just so excited to get photos from them and to hear about how they liked the care packages,” she said. “If we’re able to make their holidays just a little better, that makes it worth it. They deserve it.”