'Scents for Soldiers' again has great support
For the third time in about 15 months, an area nonprofit called Scents for Soldiers has found outstanding community support to bring wounded military veterans here for a mini-vacation at the beach.
Patients from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington and DeWitt Army Community Hospital, Fort Belvoir, Va., will arrive by chartered bus on March 22 in time for a pizza party at Tavern in the Forest. They will be guests of Harbor Lights Resort four nights and return to the Washington area on March 26. Their hosts for meals and attractions here include Myrtle Beach Moose Lodge, Murrells Inlet Elks Lodge, Myrtle Beach Elks (at Golden Corral and at the lodge), Duffy Street Restaurant, Chick fil-A and North Myrtle Beach Women's Club and the Calabash Elks. Other hosts and venues include MagiQuest, Broadway at the Beach, Carolina Comedy Club, Pine Lakes Golf Course, Barefoot Princess and Freedom Boats in Little River.
Greg Norman's Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach, which sponsored a fundraiser to pay for the bus, also is furnishing the food for a farewell dinner and party at Ocean Dunes, which has a Hall of Heroes. The public is invited to join the visitors on sightseeing and so forth.
As was the case for the first two visits, businesses and civic organizations have been "incredibly generous," says Christina Shealy, who started Scents for Soldiers. "So many have jumped in to contribute." A 501(c)(3) organization, Scents was formed in 2008 after Shealy visited Walter Reed. A patient could not eat solid food (his jaw was wired shut) and Shealy was encouraged in her initial efforts to provide the smell of fresh-baked pumpkin pie. From that came the name Scents for Soldiers.
Next week's visit is the third large group visit sponsored by Scents. In 2010, chartered buses brought 22 patients from Walter Reed in January and 27 for Memorial Day weekend and Military Appreciation Days. "We're going to try" for another Memorial Day weekend this year, she says. Shealy also has arranged for visits by much smaller groups.
As of Tuesday, Shealy has 45 names on the list, all from Walter Reed, but she knows there will be fallout. The $5,590 cost of the bus is covered because "we did wonderfully" at the Greg Norman's fundraiser. Shealy's parents, Harry and Libby Powell of Raleigh, N.C., contributed $1,000. Also, Scents received $1,000 from the "Caring for the Community" program of Four Star Plumbing & Air Conditioning in Conway.
Noting that the Walter Reed center will close, Shealy says "we've expanded to places where Walter Reed patients will go to" - such as Fort Belvoir. Shealy herself is from a military family. Her dad is a Vietnam veteran and her brother is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a former USAF pilot. Shealy's grandfather and three brothers all served in World War II and the surviving brother, Kenneth Powell, was a prisoner of war in Germany. The Powell brothers are the subject of a book, "Four Stars in the Window," a reference to the little banners with a star for every son in military service during WWII.
To view photos from the Greg Norman's Australian Grille fundraiser, please click here.