RSS Tupelo assists Op Interdependence
By Sgt. Matthew Miller
| | May 19, 2004
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Fifteen members of the Delayed Entry Program in Tupelo, Miss., helped Operation Interdependence put together more than 2,000 care packages for deployed troops May 18.
Operation Interdependence is a three-year-old non-profit organization that accepts donations and uses them to assemble care packages sent to deployed servicemembers. The distribution center in Tupelo, managed by Kelly Scott, is one of just eight centers in the country and the only one in the Southeast.
"When we heard Kelly was getting a little behind with her shipping, we decided to bring it up to the poolees (Delayed Entry Program members) and see if any of them wanted to help out," said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Barton, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Recruiting Substation Tupelo. "There was going to be a unit that wasn't going to get boxes. She had only two boxes filled out of fifty for that unit and no one to help her. The guys got those fifty finished and more done in the one evening and they enjoyed doing it."
The poolees enjoyed using the Tuesday evening to put individual bags together full of small, sometimes taken for granted, items. They spent two hours putting donated soap, razors, sunscreen, lip balm, playing cards and snacks into resealable bags to be sent to deployed troops from all services, including the National Guard.
"This is the most awesome thing we can be doing right now," said Phillip Duke, an 18-year-old graduate of North Pontotoc High School. "We have a lot of guys willing to help out to get supplies together to send to the Marines in Iraq. I know that if I was over there right now, I would look forward to getting things like this."
"It gave them a sense of doing something to help out deployed Marines, soon to be their fellow Marines," Barton said. "It gave them a good feeling to be doing something for the Marine Corps instead of just sitting around waiting to go to boot camp."
Scott, the wife of a former Marine, usually operates the distribution center with only the help of her mother-in-law, she said. Occasionally groups of volunteers will come in to help, but not very often.
"These guys are a tremendous asset to this organization," said Kelly, the local Operation Interdependence area manager. "Its hard to get people to come out and volunteer their time. We hear from all kinds of people who are more than happy to donate things or give money to help with shipping, but not many are willing to give up their time."
"You could tell Kelly really appreciated the help," Barton said. "She told them 'Thank you' over and over again, I think about thirty times while we were there."