Tree offers support to local troops

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2003

While America's men and women are being deployed overseas to safeguard against a possible war, the Big Sandy Superstores corporation is waging a battle on the home front to make local troops feel a little closer to home.

The company has set up a "Tree of Honor" at the corporate offices and all Big Sandy Superstores in the Tri-State in an effort to increase support of the local men and women who are being sent to serve the country.

Company employees and the community are submitting names, addresses and pictures of immediate family members who are in the military. These will be hung on the tree, and the company is seeking donations that will be sent to them.

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Ironton native Treva Brumfield, store manager at the Portsmouth location, is involved because she personally knows how important staying in contact is to the men and women serving. Her brother, Lt. j.g. Bill Hieronimus, is stationed on the U.S.S. Thach in the Persian Gulf.

"'It is so important to get packages from home, regardless of what it is,'" she said, quoting her brother in an e-mail.

"'Just receiving something from your loved ones makes all the difference when deployed.'"

Brumfield, a 20-year employee with Big Sandy, said she is proud of the company's support for the project.

"It means a lot that the company is behind it," she said. "Anything we send is important to let them know they are not over there being forgotten."

In addition to letters and other words of encouragement, items needed include magazines, books, crossword puzzles, personal hygiene products such as deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer and

hand wipes.

The idea came from the fact that many employees wanted to do something to show their support, said Melissa Holmes, project organizer and human resources manager for Big Sandy Superstores.

After talking about the project, the company decided to get the entire community involved, she said.

"Everyone has a stake in this. They are fighting for our freedom," Holmes said. "We can show support by sending them these care packages and show that we are thinking of them."

After beginning with about 15 employees who had immediate family being deployed, each location now has

approximately 20 names on its tree.

"The tree of honor will go on until our troops come home safely," Holmes said "We hope each person has the opportunity to come home and take their picture or ribbon off themselves."

Christina Kingery, office leader at the Big Sandy Superstore in South Point, said the program is beginning to take off and get more community involvement

"People have seen the tree in the window and are asking about it and what they can do to help," Kingery said. "It is just a good way to show respect for loved ones and anyone else who is over there."

Anyone interested in making donations or adding someone to the tree can stop at any of the Big Sandy Superstore locations in the Tri-State.