By Daniel Silliman
It started with cookies.
Carole Roach said the Augustin Clayton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution started supporting the American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with cookies. Then, the project grew.
"Now, there's a whole, huge list of things we send," Roach said. "This has been going on almost two years. We started out just sending cookies, and after a while, we got letters back ... we just feel like we're apart of a team. Team work. Like we're the civilian part of the team."
Some of the members of the Daughters of the American Revolution have been sending care packages to the soldiers serving overseas since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and the war in Iraq began in 2003. Roach, who calls herself "an enthusiastic member of the DAR," a women's memorial and heritage group, said she has personally been mailing care packages to soldiers, "on and off, for years."
This month, however, more than five years after the invasion of Iraq and more than six years after the Taliban was toppled in Afghanistan, the Daughters of the American Revolution are renewing their support and upping their commitment, with the help of B.J.'s Wholesale Clubs. In collaboration with the manager of the McDonough location, the Daughters are now collecting items to send to the soldiers at all eight locations in Georgia.
Roach said she told Robert Riddick, a manager at the 1990 Jonesboro Road store, why she was buying cookies, and he thought more could be done.
"He said, 'We can do more,'" Roach recalled. "He gave me a gift card every month, to buy more cookies and send more things over there. He took it upon himself to take this new idea up the ladder and get it approved."
Throughout May, each of the eight discount membership stores is distributing lists of items that could be sent to the soldiers, and each store has a box to collect club member's donations. Suggested items for the soldiers are also marked, throughout each store, with "patriotic rosettes," Roach said.
The Jonesboro-based Daughters of the American Revolution will then collect the items and ship them, along with their own care packages.
The Daughters are also selling the $45 memberships to BJ's, and part of the proceeds of each sale is going to support the Daughters' programs.
Roach said she hopes the soldiers feel the support, coming from the United States, and hopes they are encouraged that the support is strong even as the war sometimes seems to drag on.
"We just want them to know how much we support them and love them, just let them know we're committed to supporting our troops," she said.
The Daughters have a name for the May project: They're calling it "Project Patriot."