King’s Fork ROTC cadet collects supplies for troops

Published 10:56 pm Thursday, December 15, 2011

During this special time of year, King’s Fork High School sophomore Tharan Ball is leading a project to ensure the men and women deployed during the holidays aren’t forgotten.

Donations: King’s Fork High School sophomore Cadet Tharan Ball, left, and senior Cadet Lt. Col. Corey Jefferson unpack items that were donated by other students to send to deployed soldiers as part of a project Ball came up with to support the troops during the holidays.

Ball, who is a cadet in JROTC at his school, was watching television one night when he saw a commercial for Operation Gratitude, a program based out of California that ships care packages to troops deployed overseas, and he was inspired to help.

“It’s almost an obligation of patriotism to do something for the troops,” he said. “It’s not just because I’m in ROTC.”

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After Thanksgiving break, he reached out to his fellow ROTC cadets and students to collect non-perishable food, toiletries, recreational items for the soldiers to use in their spare time, and letters to send in a care package.

Ball said he even went to his English teacher and asked her to ask her other students to write letters of appreciation for the troops.

“Some teachers are even offering extra credit,” he said.

Ball also created a Facebook page to get the word out about the project, and he said he has gotten a good response.

“I’ve had people as far as Oklahoma help me,” he said.

Ball said the ROTC leadership, including his unit’s student leader, Cadet Lt. Col. Corey Jefferson, have been extremely encouraging.

“He’s very supportive of it,” Ball said. “And he’s trying to help with me with administrative duties.”

Ball said his ROTC teachers Lt. Col. Alfred Harris and Master Sgt. Rodney Chatman have also gotten behind his initiative.

“Our primary objective is to teach them citizenship and learning about the core values for serving the community,” Harris said.

He added he and Chatman encouraged the cadets to come up with their own ways to impact their communities, and he thinks Ball’s idea is a great example of taking that initiative.

While Ball admits he came up with the idea, he said, it isn’t a one-man show.

“I’m the leader of the project, but I have numerous people helping me,” he said.

Ball said he will continue to accept donations today and Monday, so he can send the package out before the students go on winter break on Wednesday.

He said he encourages the community to drop off any donations at the school if they want to participate.

“It brings us together as one family and one unit rather than individuals,” Ball said. “We’re all working as one for one common goal.”