Southern Smiles Prepares "Goodie Bags" for Soldiers

Thousands of Third Infantry Division soldiers are packing up and moving out. But when they leave for the Middle East, they'll be taking a little something from home. They'll be taking bags made by volunteers to accompany them on their very long flight.

For many of these volunteers, it seems like just yesterday they were standing side by side filling bags when the war in Iraq first began.

"It's time to do it again and the Savannah community has stepped up to the plate again and volunteered to help us get what we call goodie bags to the soldiers that are deploying out of Fort Stewart and Hunter," said Lynda Long with military booster group Southern Smiles.

With thousands of soldiers already deployed to the Middle East and thousands more waiting to leave, the small community group is making sure the men and woman of the Third ID have some things from home to take with them. Things they most likely won't be getting when they get to Iraq.

So far they've made 8,000 of the bags, but they still have about 14,000 more to go.

"We're going to do 22,000 in total, or one for every soldier that deploys," said Long.

With some of these volunteers already having served in the military, they say it's little gifts like these that sometimes matter most. "Having been in the military myself, I know how vital it is to keep the troops morale up," said volunteer Dave Smith.

These volunteers also say, even though it's a small contribution compared to what the soldiers are doing, it's just one way of saying thank you.

"I just don't think that they'll ever realize how proud the people of this country are of them and what they're doing," said Smith.

If you would like make donations or volunteer for Southern Smiles, they could use your help. Send donations to:

Southern Smiles
304 Commercial Drive
Savannah, GA 31406

912.356.9981, ask for Van Robbins or Lynda Long.

Or log onto:

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,