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MailTribune.com
  • Scout meets recipient of his kindness

    A civilian working for the U.S. Army seeks out the youth who engineered thousands of gift packages that were sent to soldiers in the Middle East
  • Last December, Lucas Strickland, a civilian field service representative with the U.S. Army, noticed "Eagle Point" on the return label of a care package delivered to his post in northern Afghanistan and made up his mind to personally thank the sender next time he visited his parents in nearby Prospect.
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  • Last December, Lucas Strickland, a civilian field service representative with the U.S. Army, noticed "Eagle Point" on the return label of a care package delivered to his post in northern Afghanistan and made up his mind to personally thank the sender next time he visited his parents in nearby Prospect.
    Strickland contacted Boy Scout Troop 48, identified on the box, and was informed that the package had come from Eagle Scout Bryce Thornton.
    Since 2009, Thornton, a senior at Eagle Point High School, has sent more than 3,500 boxes to soldiers in the Middle East. The boxes have been delivered to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, said Bryce's father, Darrin Thornton.
    Now stateside, Strickland surprised Bryce at a troop meeting Thursday evening and presented him with a certificate of appreciation, as well as a flag flown on a military aircraft in Afghanistan.
    "I just thought it would be something nice to do," said Strickland, who works as a civilian at Fort Hood, Texas.
    "It's always good to get something that has the United States on it, and you know someone put a lot of time and effort into putting it together."
    Bryce and his father began assembling care packages in 2009. The pair knocked on the doors of hundreds of local residences and businesses and asked people if they would be willing to sponsor postage, make a product donation or volunteer their time to help pack boxes.
    In just five weeks, Bryce, who was 13 years old at the time, raised $16,000, enough to purchase postage and goodies for about 750 boxes.
    "A lot of $10, $15 and $20 checks came in for postage," said Thornton.
    Each box included a magazine, book, Bible, Top Ramen packets, granola bars, hard candy, mixed nuts, a tooth brush and toothpaste, eye drops and lens wipes, a Beanie Baby and a handwritten letter from a student at one of the local schools.
    Bryce and his father have continued fundraising and assembling care packages. (See www.supportingfreedom.org to donate.)
    Earlier this year, Bryce learned he was one of 10 students nationwide to receive a full-ride Reserve Officers' Training Corps Marine Option scholarship, worth $180,000. He'll study mechanical engineering this fall at Oregon State University.
    "When he got the call about the scholarship, I knew something was up because he was grinning ear to ear," said Thornton, who describes his son as "steady, calm, stoic and humble."
    "I am more than proud that he is willing to step up and serve in the military," he added.
    Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_MT.
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