Bringing life to the barracks

Hank Hayes • Nov 12, 2018 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT – You can see the tears in her eyes as Eastman employee and military mom Marsha Edwards talks about her son’s reaction to receiving care packages from Eastman’s Supplies for Soldiers initiative during his first Christmas stationed overseas.

“My son joined the military in 2015, and that first Christmas my son was away, my husband and I felt helpless knowing he would be away from family,” Edwards stressed. “We wanted to do something, and that prompted us to join the Supplies for Soldiers team at Eastman. It became therapeutic for us. We felt like we were doing something for him even though we couldn’t be with him during the holidays.”

What is Supplies for Soldiers?

Supplies for Soldiers, sponsored by Eastman and the Eastman Foundation, provides support to loved ones, friends, family members and neighbors who are deployed overseas during the holiday season by collecting donations and shipping care packages of hygiene and practical items in time for Christmas.

From toothbrushes and sunscreen to books and snack bars, simply providing some of the items people take for granted every day makes a huge impact on morale. To these men and women, it’s more than supplies.

Edwards’ son, currently deployed again for the holidays, told his mom, “The packages bring life to the barracks. There are military members who never receive packages, so it doesn’t matter what is in the boxes. We just feel the love and support from home, and that is the greatest gift.”

Last year, Eastman, along with several community partners and neighbors collected a record-setting 37,500 items, which were used to fill 1,100 care packages for 88 deployed military personnel to share with their units.

How can you help?

The community can help this year by donating items between now and December 3. Requested items include hygiene items, practical items such as batteries, twin-sized bed sheets, nonperishable foods/drink mixes and entertainment items such as DVDs, playing cards and inflatable sports balls. Drop-off locations are at Eastman’s Toy F. Reid Employee Center, Supplies for Soldiers headquarters at 1450 Lincoln Street, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, participating CVS pharmacies in Kingsport (West Stone Drive, Allandale, Memorial Boulevard and Fort Henry Drive), and Walmart at 2500 West Stone Drive, which hosted a special Veteran’s Day collection event on Sunday..

Monetary donations can be made online through the Eastman Foundation. All donations will be used to purchase items for the care packages. For a full list of acceptable donation items or to donate online, visit https://responsibility.eastman.com/supplies.

“My son is proud to be serving his country, but it weighs on their hearts to be away from family, especially this time of year,” Edwards noted. “Every Supplies for Soldiers box that we ship is filled with love. As a mom, that means the world to me, and I know it means the world to them.”