0528GIFTSMarty Darracott, youth pastor at The Rock Church in South Hall, talks about care packages the church is sending to troops in Iraq and lessons the effort has taught youth group members.
FLOWERY BRANCH — A South Hall church is rallying around a staff member’s son and fellow Marines serving in Iraq.
Members of The Rock Church at 5818 Atlanta Highway are preparing to send care packages to Cpl. Timothy Donovan and others in the Marine Air Support Squadron 1, Unit 78077, based out of Cherry Point, N.C.
The idea sprang out of a discussion church members had about ways to celebrate "Heroes Among Us," the church’s theme for May.
"I was telling the staff about how my (Buford) neighborhood wanted to send a care packages to Timothy, and (staff members) said that is such a great idea, let’s do that here," said Stacie Donovan-Vise, church administrator.
Donovan-Vise said she knew such an effort "would be a blessing, because I talk to Tim and he tells me some of the guys in his unit don’t get anything from home."
And she knew many of her son’s buddies, as they attended his wedding in June.
Marty Darracott, the church’s youth pastor, volunteered the church’s youth group to supply snacks and goodies for the boxes.
"I did a slide presentation of Tim’s unit and asked the congregation to ... pay for shipping the boxes," Donovan-Vise said.
She was able to raise $1,400, "which I think is amazing."
"We were able to buy extra stuff and make even more boxes," she added.
Donovan-Vise said Clancy Bourgeois, a North Georgia Christian School teacher and church member, told her she would help in the effort with her third-grade class making a couple of boxes.
The teacher ended up supplying 20 boxes, "so her whole school participated," she said.
Donovan-Vise said the original goal was to ship out 20 to 25 boxes, as there are about that many Marines in her son’s division. Now, with the effort having picked up steam, the church will ship about 75.
"They’re going to hand them out within his unit. There are divisions within the unit, so they’re going to make sure to hand them out to (Marines) who haven’t received anything from home," she said.
"They’re very excited."
Donovan joined the Marines in 2007 was supposed to come home from Iraq in August, but his deployment was extended another year.
"If the guys on the ground say they need an air strike ... at such-and-such coordinates, my son looks on the computer and determines who is in the best strategic position to deliver that strike," Donovan-Vise said, describing her son’s job.
Darracott said he believes such efforts are needed to keep up the morale of troops overseas.
"When the war broke out, I’m sure people did a good job of sending support and resources," he said. "Getting close to the end of the war, we’re just trying to show our small token of appreciation for what they’re doing."
Darracott said he hopes the effort also will serve as lesson for his youth group members.
"Sometimes the war seems like it’s a million miles away, but with one of our own troops over there, it just helps our kids have a personal contact to the war," he said.