Providence sending care packages to soldiers

By Ashley Biles

August 6, 2014

It has been said before: Little things can often be the biggest things in someone’s day. We may not think twice about having access to our favorite potato chips on a regular basis, when someone else may consider them to be a luxury item. It is that line of thinking which led the residents and families of Providence Health and Rehab to create care packages filled with snacks, candy and all sorts of trinkets for soldiers serving overseas. Activities Director Michelle Thigpen stated each month the residents participate in a community project as a way to give something back others and she knew sending care packages to those serving in the military would be a way to show appreciation to those protecting our freedom.

Once the project was decided, letters were sent to the families of those staying at Providence to ask for their help in supporting the cause. Once the donations started coming in, Thigpen stated she was pleasantly surprised at how much people were willing to contribute. She received bags upon bags containing items such as chips, drink mixes, candy, snack food, gum, writing supplies for letters and Frisbees to fill the boxes and it warmed her heart to think they would be able to share with so many soldiers. Mr. Mallory Dudley, who is a resident of Providence, and his family turned the collection into a competition and filled a laundry basket to the brim with goodies. Mr. Dudley also said a special prayer as he helped to pack the boxes for the safety of the soldiers.

However, through all the items she collected, Thigpen noted there was one in particular that stood out from the rest: a football. At first you might think people send footballs in care packages all the time, but the note that accompanied this particular one explained why it is different. The football, which was sent by the Barfield family in Mauk, Georgia, has already been overseas once before. The note accompanying the ball says it was sent to the writer’s (who is not named specifically) nephew when he was serving in Iraq in 2011 and explained that both he and the football made it home safely. The family wanted to send it to another soldier in hopes that they would have the same fate.

When she read the note, Thigpen said she was brought to tears over the fact that someone would pass on an item with such sentimental value to a stranger. Right off the bat, she knew who the football should go to, an Upson County native named Zachary Hatchett, 22, who is currently serving in the cavalry in Afghanistan. Thigpen stated Hatchett’s grandfather, Steve Oglesbee, is a volunteer at Providence and she knew if it was sent to his grandson they would be able to keep up with where it went.

Mr. Oglesbee said Hatchett has been in the service for three years and is in his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and has been stationed overseas since February of this year. He continued saying he could not be prouder of his grandson for serving his country and is thankful for the gift that is being sent to him. Hatchett and his unit are scheduled to come home this fall.

Through all of the donations that were brought in, Thigpen estimates they will have enough items to fill ten boxes. While she is thrilled about the number, she was not as thrilled when she found out how much it will cost to ship the boxes, nearly $70 each. Therefore, she is hoping the community will offer to lend a hand and sponsor a box. However, there is not much time to waste, as they are planning to ship the boxes by the end of this week. Anyone wishing to help with the cause can contact Thigpen at Providence at 706-647-6693.

Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1