Shoe boxes for soldiers

first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaSoldiers in “Operation Iraqi Freedom” from Georgia’s Fort Stewartand Hunter Army Air Field will soon get shoe boxes from homethrough the efforts of 4-H’ers in, interestingly enough, LibertyCounty.The shoe boxes are filled with much-needed personal care items,not shoes.”Our soldiers have food and medical supplies,” said DeniseEverson, a University of Georgia Extension Service 4-H agent inLiberty County and coordinator of the statewide project.Soldiers need sunscreen, chapstick”Those things are obviously government issued,” she said. “Whatthey need are things like sunscreen, Chap Stick and toiletriesthat most of us take for granted here at home.”Everson has firsthand knowledge of what U.S. soldiers need. FortStewart is just a mile and a half from her office, and 75 percentof her 4-H’ers have a parent in the military.”We are a military community,” she said. “This project hit closeto home for us and for our kids. We all know someone who is awayfrom home because of the war. For me, it’s my boss (Robert Bell,UGA Extension agriculture agent AG AGENT OR COUNTY EXTENSIONCOORDINATOR? in Liberty C county), who’s stationed at FortStewart preparing reserve units for deployment to Iraq.”She says local soldiers are sending stories home about how”really, really cold; really, really sandy; and really, reallyhot” the conditions are in Iraq.”They’re also requesting soft bathroom tissue from home, which isa lot different from the government-issued tissue they get,”Everson chuckled.The soldiers also need handheld computer games and toiletrieslike toothpaste, deodorant and soap.”The computer games are to help them pass the downtime that wedon’t see on news coverage,” she said. A community project that became a statewide projectThe shoe box project began in March as the Liberty County 4-H’erscommunity service project for the month. Lori Purcell, programdevelopment coordinator for Georgia’s Central District 4-HOffice, was instrumental in transforming the project into astatewide 4-H project. As word of the project spread, studentsfrom across the state joined in to collect boxes in theircounties, too.On May 22, more than 400 shoe boxes were delivered to FortStewart’s Army Community Services. And, over the past two months,more than 2,000 individual items have been delivered to ArmyCommunity Services and Southern Smiles, a nonprofit organizationin the Savannah, Ga., home of Hunter. Army Community Services andSouthern Smiles will make sure the boxes reach their intendeddestination.”The shoe boxes are the perfect size, as they can be put onsupply planes as there’s room, a few here and a few there,” saidEverson.”Medical and military supplies are obviously the toppriority. With this project, we know the boxes are going to getto soldiers. And they’re our soldiers.”It’s not too late to participate in the shoe box project. If youare interested, contact Everson at (912)876-2133. Or e-mail [email protected]”Most people are beginning to view the war as being over,”Everson said. “In military communities like ours, we know thereality.(The soldiers) are still on a peace-keeping mission, andmany will continue to be assigned to Iraq for the next five to 10years.”Everson said the first wave of soldiers are expected to return toLiberty County in late summer, although no official dates havebeen announced at this time.Next, Georgia’s middle school 4-H’ers plan to write letters toGeorgia soldiers.”At our fall retreat, each 4-H’er will get a name of a soldier towrite to,” Everson said.”And we know the soldiers will write backand send pictures. Some soldiers never get mail. This will reallymeet that need.”last_img

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