GRITS gathers gifts for soldiers

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, October 30, 2018

NATCHEZ — Pattie Jones wanted to do something nice for the troops at Christmastime a few years ago, and with one little mistake in ordering she found herself organizing efforts annually as the founder and president of Operation GRITS.

Operation GRITS, which stands for “gifts raised in the South,” ships care boxes, gifts and greetings to soldiers who are deployed overseas.

The mistake that led to the creation of Operation GRITS happened in 2010 when Jones was putting together Christmas care packages to let soldiers know someone back home was thinking of them, she said.

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“In 2010, I over-ordered,” Jones said. “I thought I was ordering 10 boxes and I ordered 10 cases. The post office said, ‘Use what you need,’ and I thought, ‘No one else is going to use them to send gifts to the troops.’ I found out there wasn’t an organization like this around here, and I sat around with friends and organized Operation GRITS.”

Jones said that for approximately $20 in postage, someone could ship a care package overseas, and she likes to pack the boxes full of toiletries and any snack or luxury that will make a soldier feel a little bit more at home. Jones said a greeting card or letter also is a nice touch.

“Anything you think you would want to have,” Jones said. “I’ve been told by several of them that even a tube of toothpaste can cost $10 over there. A guy told me one time he had just used the last of his tube when he received his package. He said he thought he wasn’t going to have any for a while.”

Jones said certain items not allowed, including as pork, pornography or alcohol.

GRITS’s goal this year is to ship 500 boxes, Jones said, and each year she attempts to find soldiers who have a local connection, which this year includes troops deployed to Kuwait from Franklin County, she said.

The deadline for submitting goods through Operation GRITS is 5 p.m. Dec. 7. Aside from full boxes, the organization also accepts donations by check and items that can be used to complete a box. Donated goods may be dropped off or mailed to 107 Carter St., Vidalia, LA 71373. For more information call 601-807-6470.