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Bon Secours prepares care packages for troops

Tables in the upstairs conference room of Bon Secours were littered with everything from soaps to toilet paper to popcorn to books on Thursday.

Anyone else might be lost among the piles of toiletries, but the employees of Bon Secours had a game plan.

Knowing that some of the most deserving people in the country have the fewest comforts, employees from Bon Secours have spent the last few weeks gathering and donating the materials, which they put into care packages on Thursday to ship to deployed American troops.

“We see so many military come in and out of our facilities,” said Karen Fussman, who proposed the idea. “They come into our environment, we take care of them and they leave and go do their jobs. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be as thriving or as safe in our country.”

The care package effort was part of the company’s monthly employee engagement program, which focuses on organizing the employees to work toward a common goal and project.

“It’s to share a common goal and work towards something bigger than us, and reaching out to our Bon Secours family,” said Ashley Sumner, director of service excellence at Bon Secours, whose fiancé is overseas. “This month’s project was about identifying employees with loved ones who are deployed and supporting each other in that.”

Of the other projects, Sumner said this one has gotten employees particularly excited.

“It’s probably one of the best ones we’ve had,” Sumner said. “Everyone has whole-heartedly supported this.”

Since mid-July, the employees have been collecting and donating supplies within the company for the care packages. The results were far beyond what was imagined.

Care packages are being sent to 35 soldiers from Bon Secours families, with all remaining packages being sent to Riverine Squadron 1 from Little Creek that is currently stationed in Iraq.

“It’s just overwhelming to see it turn into something like this,” Fussman said. “I’m just overwhelmed.”

Also in recognition of the work being done by the loved ones of their co-workers, bulletin boards were set up in the hospitals with photos of soldiers and veterans.

“There are pictures up there from the 1960s to now,” Sumner said. “Its neat to see the common bond that we didn’t recognize and may not have had before. It’s a neat way to recognize those who have served and to thank them.”

One photo on a bulletin board is that of Lee Lewis Jr., who worked in the central office at Bon Secours before he enrolled in the U.S. Army as a medic.

Two weeks later, he was shot in the neck and died.

To honor his memory and further his mission, his co-workers collected donations for the care packages in a box with his picture on it, which they used to fill the packages being shipped overseas.

“We just thought it was good way to honor his memory, and let him know we are still supporting him,” said Ruby Rea, who worked with Lee.