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Operation GRITS collecting donations

 

NATCHEZ — What is the cost of freedom?

One local organization has spent nearly $40,000 in postage in the past six years, sending care packages to soldiers who are not able to be home for the holidays.

Even still, the price Operation G.R.I.T.S. spends to send 500 boxes each Christmas pales in comparison to the risks and sacrifices soldiers make every day, G.R.I.T.S. President Pattie Jones said.

For the seventh year, the local organization, whose name stands for Gifts Raised in the South, is preparing to send boxes filled with toiletries, condiments, snacks, clothing and other leisure items to servicemen and women in Kuwait, Qatar and Germany.

“We want those in the military to know there are people who are supporting them when they are away for Christmas,” Jones said.

The holidays can be lonely for the soldiers, especially when they are not with friends and family, Jones said. The boxes provide a morale boost.

Each year, the organization tries to find someone in the military with a local connection to send a shipment of boxes. From there, the soldier passes out boxes to other military officers on their base.

“We try to find people from the local community or with ties to residents in the area,” Jones said.

This year, packages will be sent to three soldiers, Dustin Thompson, Nathan Bozeman and Jacob Pender.

Thompson is the son-in-law of Dr. Maurice Gremillion in Ferriday. Thompson is stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Bozeman is the son of Vidalia couple Denny and Michelle Bozeman. Nathan is stationed in Qatar.

Pender is from Natchez and is a graduate of Trinity Episcopal Day School. He is currently in Germany.

“The overwhelming support is a great reflection of our area,” Jones said.

Anyone interested in sending a box or making monetary donation for this year’s shipment should begin now, Jones said.

Boxes are provided free of charge from the United States Postal Service and can be picked up, along with a list of suggested items, at Reed Insurance at 107 Carter St. in Vidalia.

For more information about the project, call Jones at 601-807-6470.

Items that are prohibited from being sent include pork products, alcohol, liquid sanitizer and aerosol cans.

Jones encourages anyone sending a box to include letters, cards and thank you notes.

After a box is filled, they should be returned by Dec. 2 with $15.90 postage, she said.

Monetary donations are also accepted at the Reed Insurance office on Carter Street or by using the donate link at operationsgrits.com.

“All of the work is done by volunteers,” Jones said. “We have no staff so all of the money is used for Operation G.R.I.T.S.,” Jones said.

Jones said she is always amazed and thankful for the community response each year.

Since Operation G.R.I.T.S. started in 2010, the organization has spent $40,000 in postage.

“It costs a good bit to send the boxes,” Jones said. “But when you think about what our military has done, risking and sacrificing for our country, what is $15.90 compared to the cost of freedom?” Jones said.

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