Goodies from home going to 846th Transportation Unit
By Lee Ann Sides Garrett
It took 18 tables to hold it all. Even though the soldiers are currently deployed in Iraq, the U.S. Army Reserve’s 846th Transportation Company center was a busy place Saturday afternoon.
About 20 members and friends of the Family Readiness Group (FRG) stood at tables sorting items and filling boxes for care packages to be sent to the unit’s 170 deployed soldiers.
“It looks like Christmas in here,” said Annette Beauchamp.
Her husband, Sgt. Douglas Beauchamp, is on his first tour overseas with the company. This is the company’s second deployment to the Middle East. Members of the company spent 17 months in Iraq in 2003-2004.
Beauchamp says her husband joined the reserves after being out of the military for 19 years.
“Everybody thought he was crazy,” she says. “It was his dream. As a family decision, we thought he needed to finish what he wanted to do.”
Beauchamp says she and children Brandon, 19, and Brooke, 12, send a care package once a month.
Group members laughed and shared stories as they worked at tables filled with socks, toiletries, books, magazines, canned goods like Vienna Sausages, playing cards, notebooks and more.
“We wanted to make sure every solder knew we were thinking about them,” said FRG team leader Jennifer Welch. Welch says the group has about 40 to 50 members who meet about every three weeks to offer support and fellowship. The group includes family members of the transportation company and anyone else who wants to be involved.
“These people really understand how you feel,” Beauchamp said.
Though friends and family members are supportive, Beauchamp says it’s nice to talk to someone who has the same feelings or issues.
As Ann Howell stacked boxes filled earlier by Boy Scout Troop 328 of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, she said, “Every meeting I come to, there’s usually somebody from the VA who’s talking about issues. There’s always somebody I can call who understands what I’m going through.”
Howell’s husband, Staff Sgt. William Howell, is on his third tour overseas. This is his second in the reserves.
Karen Puckett sorted books into boxes marked for males or females. The unit has 23 women who are soldiers. Puckett brought in donations from the Rowan County Democratic Party, her church (St. John’s Lutheran) and Stonebriar Development, where she lives.
“I wanted to be in some type of group that did something for the soldiers,” Puckett said. “Democrats are often considered anti-troop, but we definitely support our troops.”
The group sat down to a meal together once all the packages were filled, marked and placed into larger boxes for shipment to Iraq.
“I love being a part of this,” says Beauchamp. “It (the deployment) has changed me. The sacrifice has changed the way I think about everything.”
For information about the Family Readiness Program, contact the FRG team leader at firstname.lastname@example.org.