Long presents a soldier with his "goody bag."
They're taking part in Operation Desert Spring, part of a routine scheduled deployment to defend Kuwait, but local people are making sure they take a piece of home with them. It's called Operation Savannah Cares, and the group's goal is to make sure every deployed soldier knows that someone in the Coastal Empire is thinking about them.
Hunter Army Airfield is abuzz as soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division prepare to leave for Kuwait. Over the last week, hundreds of soldiers have been processed through here before deploying for the region. They've checked in and they've weighed in with their gear; but some of the most important equipment these soldiers will carry with them to Kuwait is not government issue.
Operation Savannah Cares participant Lynda Long described some of the items given to soldiers: "M&Ms, hard candy, crackers, Ding Dongs, Dum Dums, Twinkies, some personal hygiene items. Just things like entertainment: cards, dominoes, games. You need a goody bag," she added.
The community project Southern Smiles is putting on the program. It's not just about snacks, either. They're matching up every soldier with a pen pal to write and send care packages.
"We want them to know Savannah is a giving and caring community, and we just wish them the best," Long said.
Their efforts are making a big impressions on soldiers.
"Having lived in several military communities, I think Savannah is probably the best one I've ever seen," said Capt. Joseph Linn.
It's also encouraging for soldiers deploying for the first time.
"It gives me a lot of support other than family and friends sending me cards. A little more comfort." said PFC Jason Nash.
Operation Savannah Cares is looking for organizations or businesses that would like to sponsor a unit. This one was sponsored by Gulfstream. If you'd like to get involved, contact:
Operation Savannah Cares
PO Box 15933
Savannah, GA 31416
Donations are tax deductible, and written acknowledgement of money or supplies received will be provided.