News: To put a smile on one soldier’s face
Story by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Blankenship
LOUISBURG, N.C. – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Amanda Jones has approximately 310 care packages waiting to be sent to the Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, who have been deployed to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt since October of 2012. The 310 boxes are a small portion of the over 1,000 packages that she has sent overseas since the deployment began.
The Families of the North Carolina National Guard Soldiers deployed are able to have their care packages mailed to their loved one when Jones sends the large lot, helping Families to avoid paying shipping costs. Jones will send the packages directly to her husband, Staff Sgt. Aaron Jones, the supply sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 5th-113th FAB, who will then distribute the packages among the Soldiers.
“We started this back in December. The Families came in and dropped off the personal packages just for their spouses,” Jones said. “The (State Employees’) credit union donated a lot of personal hygiene items, candy and food for us to send overseas. It has pretty much just progressed since then.”
Family members rarely bring packages on their own, Jones said. The Families will show up in groups, supporting each other. Being able to work together to support one goal has brought them closer together, forming an unbreakable bond.
“The Families are coming together,” Jones said. “We’re like one big Family now.”
Along with the advantages of seeing the smile on the Soldier’s face and building close bonds between the Families, this has been a way for the Families to more easily put the smile on their Soldier’s face.
“There are several Families who couldn’t really afford to continuously send care packages,” said Jones. “They are thrilled to have the opportunity to put together their own care packages and send it over.”
For some of the Soldiers deployed, these packages are the only reminders of home that they receive.
“I’ve gotten an e-mail back from a lieutenant over there, saying that the care package that she received back in February was the first care package she had received,” said Jones. “She said she was in tears. I just sent her a little bear. She loved it.”
All of the work Jones puts into these shipments couldn’t be done alone. She has, and continues to; receive a lot of assistance from organizations such as Military Missions in Action, who have helped with a lot of the shipments, Operation North State, who mailed over 500 packages to the Soldiers over Christmas and Packs for Patriots, who have donated treats to be sent to the Soldiers.
All of the work Jones and the organizations have put into ensuring the deployed Guardsmen have something to look forward, to is worth the sweat.
“If I can help out one Family, or one Soldier overseas, to put a smile on his or her face over there, then to me, it’s all worth it,” said Jones.
Jones’ original goal for sending packages to the Soldiers was set at 1,000 packages by the end of the deployment. Once she mails the shipment waiting to go out, she will have mailed out over 1,100 packages to the deployed Soldiers.
“I am going to set up a new goal for myself. I am going to try to get 1,500 packages to the battalion,” said Jones.
The packages have been taking approximately one month to reach the Soldiers, deployed to the Sinai Peninsula. Jones intends for the last shipment of packages to be sent to the Soldiers in June. The Soldiers are scheduled to return to North Carolina by the fall of 2013.