Marine Corps license plates would boost local group

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJune 14, 2012 

A Bluffton nonprofit organization that sends care packages to Marines stationed overseas might soon get fundraising help from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Moss Creek Marines, a group of about 35 retired Marines and Navy corpsmen and spouses of deceased Marines, will receive some of the proceeds from a new Marine Corps specialty license plate approved this week by state lawmakers.

Sponsored by Sen. John Land, R-Manning, the bill authorizing the Marine Corps plate and six other new vehicle tags was ratified Tuesday and awaits Gov. Nikki Haley's signature, according to state records. The new tags would cost an additional $30 each, according to the bill.

The proposal allocates "all fees ... above the cost of production" to the Moss Creek group, a designation its co-founder said is a result of more than a year of coordination with local legislators.

"We noticed some years ago that there was no license plate recognizing the Marine Corps and wanted to do something about that," said Roger Garreau, a retired Marine and Korean War veteran. "So we got in touch with our local state representatives. We don't know what the plates will look like yet, but this is obviously very satisfying for us."

He added that should the bill be signed into law, proceeds will fund the group's long-running "Adopt A Combat Unit" program, which assembles and ships care packages to units deployed to Afghanistan and other combat zones.

The care packages include everything from video-game consoles to beef jerky.

The organization has sent care packages to more than 60 units since the program started in 2007.

Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, said the group is more than deserving of a cut of the plate's proceeds.

"It's a very appropriate use for this money," Herbkersman said. "They had the idea for the Marine Corps plate, and to be honest, I think this is one of the best uses that we've come up with for these plates. They're a fantastic group."

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