A (Purple) heart for giving

Published 7:33 pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

Earl Kingsbury served his country for 10 years in the Navy. He served in two wars — World War II and Korea — and received the Purple Heart for an incident during conflict in Korea.

Today, he is still serving, by coordinating collection efforts at two Purple Heart Donation Centers in Suffolk. Through a partnership with Village Thrift Stores in Baltimore, the clothes, household items and other donations collected at either the donation station at Farm Fresh on North Main Street or Farmer Joe’s on Carolina Road, are collected and then processed for distribution at sites throughout the commonwealth and region.

But, that is not where the giving ends — and it is not the only reason Kingsbury has helped this cause for more than 20 years.

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“Each month a donation is made to the Purple Heart Association – about $1,200 each month,” Kingsbury said, referring to the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation.

But the donation efforts slowed recently as a result of renovation efforts at the Farm Fresh location and a request by the grocer for the group to move its former, “run-down” drop-off location.

“Farm Fresh had just gone through their renovation and asked us to remove our trailer,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t blame them at all. Their store looked great and our trailer — well, it looked like hell.”

But, after working to develop a brand new, and better looking donation point, the group is now back at Farm Fresh and, according to Kingsbury, doing “very well.”

“I really appreciate the folks at Farm Fresh and what they have done for us,” Kingsbury said. “It’s nice to be back up and running there.”

Although the four-month hiatus did hurt overall donations, Kingsbury said the volume of donations is picking back up.

“We have been back for about a month, and it is starting to pick-up once again,” Kingsbury said. “We will just have to keep getting the word out about what we are doing and the help it provides.’

Kingsbury’s last duty was aboard the USS Krishna, serving as an engineman aboard the amphibious repair ship. Though he earned a Purple Heart medal of his own in Korea, he was not interested in sharing the details of the incident.

The Massachusetts native has lived in Suffolk since 1950, when he was recalled to active duty.

Even though the 85-year-old calls himself retired, the work with the donation centers keeps him busy, and he is looking for even more.

“We are looking to establish a center in the Carrolton area pretty soon,” he said.