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Marine wife organizes drive for overseas Marines

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
Amanda Smith knows all about the Marines. Her husband, Ronnie, is one of those devil dogs.
While he’s not currently on active duty, Amanda knows plenty of people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan — Ronnie calls them his brothers and sisters, fellow Marines fighting the good fight.
For that reason, she feels like it’s her duty to support everyone she can currently fighting abroad. And come Aug. 13, everyone in the area can help her do it.
Amanda is partnering with Tilley Harley Davidson and other local businesses for Project Devil Dog, a drive organized to gather items of support for care packages to go to a platoon in Iraq.
“The platoon that I’m sponsoring doesn’t have a lot of family state side,” said Amanda. She’s talked with the platoon staff sergeant via email and he conveyed that the Marines fighting under him would be thankful for anything they got — from a single toothbrush to letters or cookies.
Details are still in the works for an event to be held at Tilley Harley Davidson off of Bendix Drive in Salisbury, but Amanda knows that there will be three bands and instead of admission to the event, they will be collecting non-perishable items to send to the platoon.
The items will go into large care packages and shipped to Iraq. UPS has donated the boxes for the items, and Amanda has also gotten donations from Texas Pete for hot sauce to ship over. Dental Ridge in Rockwell, donated 144 toothbrushes, and Amanda also said the soldiers need other items.
They can accept just about everything, but there are a few things they can’t accept. No aerosol cans will be allowed (so no shaving cream or hairspray, unless it is liquid or pump), no pork items, no glass containers and no chocolate.
Amanda first “adopted” a single Marine through the Adopt-A-Hero program.
“His first email he sent me was just a big thank you for adopting me,” she said.
Started by Ryan Rust, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race driver, the Florida-based organization looks to pair up service members overseas with people interested in sending them a little bit of love from state-side.
Signing up to adopt a service member is easy. After selecting the branch of service you would like your hero to be in, a short form with your name and other contact information is filled out. In addition, you answer simple questions on whether you would like to adopt a single service member or an entire platoon.
If you choose to not adopt a platoon, you may still adopt up to five different service members from different branches. Once you’ve chosen and submitted your request, you will be emailed with a confirmation link, and the organization will send you details about your hero, including contact information and wants and needs.
If you can no longer participate, it’s a simple matter of contacting the organization and letting them know your hero needs a new sponsor.
Amanda said it’s a great service to provide to the men and women serving overseas, risking everything for those back home. She emails with the staff sergeant of her platoon “a lot” and knows they need pretty much everything.
“I know the economy is tough,” she said. “You could skip buying a carton of ice cream and buy a pack of dollar store razors.”
Even something as simple as homemade cookies or a packet of letters from a Sunday School class will be welcome, she added.
She was inspired to adopt because her husband is a Marine.
“I’m proud of my husband,” she said. “Once you’re around (Marines), you realize how hard they work.”
Getting packages from home is just a break for them, a little piece of home to give them much needed relief from the reality of life overseas.
Even though she’s passionate about her project, Ronnie said he was a little surprised when she first started talking about it. Adopting an entire platoon is a huge undertaking.
“A lot of my brothers and sisters over there will appreciate it a lot,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing. The bigger the event, the more it will show people still care. …
“We know that they’re over there,” added Ronnie. “We know what they are fighting for and (this will show) they still have support.”
For more information about Adopt-A-Hero, visit http://www.adoptahero.us/.
Joanie Morris is a freelance reporter for the Salisbury Post. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or news@salisburypost. com.

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