For the soldiers of Laurinburg’s 151st Engineer Company, every holiday spent away from home takes on a special meaning.
Mindful of that reality because of his experience having a father deployed overseas, local Boy Scout Jamie Tippett organized a care package project to make the Scotland County-based engineering company’s Valentine’s Day a little brighter.
“With my dad being in the military, I knew how much it meant to them to receive something from home,” Tippett said.
The nearly 100 soldiers held a ceremony last June to mark their deployment to replace the 883rd Engineer Company in Afghanistan.
As part of his Eagle Scout project, Tippett made it his personal mission to make certain that the soldiers knew they had not been forgotten back in North Carolina.
Issuing a call for donations in December, Tippett collected hundreds of items during two drop off days at the same Laurinburg Armory called home by the 151st.
Tippett said that he received items ranging from baby wipes to batteries during the drop-off period. He also offered to pick up items from donors’ homes if they were unable to make it to the drop offs.
“I had a good turnout on each of the two collection days,” Tippett said, adding that he received about $1000 to pay for the shipping costs, the bulk of which came from the pork company Murphy-Brown, LLC. “The reaction to the project by Scotland County was encouraging,” Tippett added.
Saying that he was only hoping for an acknowledgment that the items had been received, Tippett reported being “completely surprised” when an e-mail arrived along with a photo showing the soldiers celebrating with the care packages.
“I also got a message from one of the soldiers saying thanks. It made me feel like I had accomplished something meaningful,” Tippett said.
In Afghanistan the 151st has worked clearing supply and patrol roads used by coalition forces. Almost half of the 151st had experienced an earlier deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan before being dispatched to the conflict in June.
Tippett’s project followed a public request by American Legion Post 50 and the Scotland County chapter of the American Red Cross for more care packages from home in October.
At the time, Red Cross Executive Director Carol Ann lentz said that care packages were not being sent as frequently as they once were.
For those inspired by his project, Tippett encourages them to call the local armory and pitch in.
“You can just contact (the armory) and let them know that you want to do something and they will find a way for you to help out,” Tippett said.
The Laurinburg National Guard Armory can be reached at 276-0578.