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Adopting a Soldier

Submitted by by Audrea Horejsi, Ellendale/Geneva Girl Scout troop leader

In July 2008, while looking for projects for our Girl Scout troop to work on for the coming school year, I read an article about another troop that had “adopted a soldier” and thought it sounded like a wonderful idea and a great experience for the girls.  I contacted www.mysoldier.com, and they sent me the contact information for a soldier currently serving in Iraq.  They also sent me some red bracelets for each of the Girl Scouts to wear, symbolizing their part of adopting a soldier. Each girl in the troop has been given one to wear if and when they wish.

Our soldier’s name is Charles (Charlie) Enebrad. He grew up on the coast in South Carolina and worked on shrimp boats before joining the military.  The movie “Forest Gump” was filmed in his hometown. He joined the military at age 17 and has been an active member for nine years now.  He is stationed out of Fort Lewis, Washington and is an army fire fighter currently working with a construction unit in Nasariyah, Iraq. He has been married for six years and has a four-year-old son and twin two-year-old daughters, whom he says he wants to join the Girl Scouts as soon as they are able to; he feels it is a wonderful organization to be a part of. He currently has 122 soldiers in his company.

Of the 18 girls that currently attend Girl Scouts in Ellendale/Geneva, 16 wrote letters to Charlie in November 2008, and he, along with a fellow soldier named Logan Hastings from St. Paul, Minn., wrote an individual letter back to each and every girl. They thought that was pretty cool and they each have taken their letters home to keep. Along with the letters, we made and sent some Christmas decorations, hand-crafted with construction paper, glue, glitter, puff balls, markers, and crayons. The girls were very creative, and the decorations looked awesome. When Charlie received the decorations, he hung them up for everyone in his company to see and enjoy throughout the holiday season and wrote to tell us it added a “touch of home” for the soldiers.

In February, we hand-crafted Valentine decorations for Charlie and his company, and he also hung those up for everyone to see and enjoy.

The month of February was a sad one for Charlie as one of his friends was killed in a road side bomb in Iraq and left behind a wife and four children.  I’m sure Charlie probably sees, hears about, and deals with this type of thing on a daily basis, but it is even harder when it is one of his own and a personal friend.

Charlie sent us some photos in February showing the large trucks he drives over in Iraq and the girls were in awe when they saw the size of them.

Most recently, the girls each bought and donated Girl Scout cookies for Charlie and the other soldiers, and we sent them right to his attention in Iraq.

He sent back pictures showing many of the soldiers sorting through and eating the cookies as they unpacked them. He said we have no idea how much they all appreciate and LOVE Girl Scout cookies – another little touch of home to them.The girls and I have totally enjoyed our activities and communications revolving around Charlie, and we are looking forward to more. We plan to stay in communication with Charlie for the duration of his stay in Iraq. We feel like we know Charlie, even though we have never personally met him and probably never will. We talk about him as we would someone we see and talk to every day. Our communication with him has meant a lot to us and it probably always will. I think the girls in the troop, who range from ages 5-10, will all remember Charlie when they look back and think about the days they were a Girl Scout.

Update

The girls were touched and honored to receive the following letter from Charlie:

Hello,

I have a “special gift” for your troop. I have an American Flag that was flown out here in Iraq that I plan on sending to you once I get home. A certificate will accompany it stating such. I hope it is something that can express the gratitude my guys and I have for your troop. I cannot thank you for the overwhelming support you have provided during my time here. I still have a month or so to go, and I am busy as ever, but I just wanted to let you know I will be sending this so you will have something to look forward to … Thanks again and God bless.
Charlie

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