The event for the troops of the Springfield-based Alpha Battery of the Georgia Army National Guard 1/118 Field Artillery Battalion on June 5 was outstanding, said event chairperson Ruth Lee.
The committee putting the event together as family picnic went to the community and asked for gifts to be given to troops as a small token of the community appreciation for their year-long deployment to Afghanistan. The response was outstanding, according to Lee.
“I have asked this community for support for many things. I have to tell you that this was great,” she said. “The only event comparable may have been the event when the troops returned from a year long deployment from Iraq a few years ago. Only a few that were asked to participate in Saturday’s event declined.”
A total of $15,000 in gifts were given out by drawing names out of the bag; no gift was valued at less than $50. The tops gifts were: a weekend at New Ebenezer for 12 people, $500 cash provided by the Effingham Women in Business; a 17 cal. rifle with scope and case from Butch’s Paint, Bullets, Bull in Springfield; a year’s membership in the YMCA. Other gifts included a half dozen hotel packages valued from $250 to $400.
Other participants deserving special note are: Walgreens, providing bottled water, discount coupons for all of the troops, brownies for all purchased by customers, thanks you cards (64) written by the public, and a photographer on site to make pictures of families and buddy groups; Holiday Inn Express for bags for assorted items for all and the work of an employee (Amy Ambrose) in securing so many of the gifts, especially the hotel packages; employees of Citizens Bank and BB&T who each put together a significant gift package. Georgia Pacific provided an assortment of paper goods for each of the members of the battery.
Two groups of workers that made a difference was Clarence Morgan and staff of the Recreation Department and members of the Exchange Club assisted in serving the food, with the help of other contributors who showed up to work. Cooking was done by Springfield Mayor Jeff Northway and assisted by local veteran Kelly Dickey.
“It was a great day for the troops and their families but more than that it was also a great for the community, who came together and made it possible,” Lee said.
She added that the work of the committee was the key to the success. Committee members were: Ruth Lee, Clarence Morgan, Patrice Crawley, Butch Kieffer, Amy Ambrose, Tess Hynes, Rick Lott, Bonnie Dixon, Heather Sandstrom and Kia Westmoreland.