An Eagle Point Boy Scout is entering his fourth year of delivering goodies to military members in the Middle East, and this year he's turning the effort into an Eagle Scout project.
Bryce Thornton, a junior at Eagle Point High School, is collecting everything from food to socks to Beanie Babies to send to troops in Afghanistan. The deadline for accepting donations for this year's shipment is Sept. 30.
Thornton began the project in 2009, when he was 13, and since then has shipped 2,320 boxes weighing more than 16,000 pounds to the troops, according to his father, Darrin Thornton. This year's boxes will be sent to Kandahar and then distributed to forward bases, he said.
Darrin Thornton said Bryce has received a lot of positive feedback from troops, including a story about one unit that came back to its base to discover it had been wiped out by a flash flood. But they were promptly delivered 100 boxes of supplies sent by Bryce.
"It was just fate that it was such perfect timing," Darrin said.
Bryce's decision to turn his four-year effort into an Eagle Scout project was heartily endorsed by a lieutenant colonel in Kandahar, who is serving as the contact point in Afghanistan.
"He said the biggest regret in his life is that he didn't get his Eagle Scout award," Darrin said.
Bryce is involved in a variety of other activities. He is a member of the National Honor Society, a long-distance runner in track, has qualified for Oregon's team in a national archery competition, raises rabbits for 4-H and is an accomplished marksman with a variety of guns.
Darrin noted that local community members and businesses have been strong supporters. Gary West Meats is matching any order sending jerky to the troops through Bryce's program and has so far provided more than $28,000 in jerky, he said. People may donate by going to www.garywest.com and clicking on the "Local" tab and then "Boy Scout Soldier Project."
"We've gotten lots of $5 donations that have really added up," Darrin said.
Bryce has a list of more than 50 small items that are ideal to send to the troops. Some of the suggested items are:
Food: peanut butter and jelly, dried fruit, trail mix, pistachios, cashews, macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, jerky, hard candies, gum and protein bars.
Toiletries: socks, shower shoes, wet wipes, antibiotic wipes, aloe vera, ChapStick, sunscreen, soap and shampoo, lens cleaner wipes, eye drops and bath towels.
Miscellaneous: Nerf balls, Beanie Babies (to give to kids), Frisbees, squirt guns, stress balls, DVD movies, disposable cameras, prepaid phone cards, blank greeting cards or postcards and batteries.
Donated items can be dropped off by Sept. 30 at Valley Feed & Supply, 112 S. Royal Ave., Eagle Point, and Rainey's Corner, 4865 Highway 234, White City (in Sam's Valley). Pick-ups may be arranged by calling Darrin Thornton at 541-944-3626.
Bryce is also accepting donations to help cover the cost of shipping — it costs $13.45 to ship one box.
For more information on the project, see http://supportingfreedom.org.
Bob Hunter is editor of the Mail Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.