Troops in the Middle East have something small to be thankful for, thanks to two Beaufort women, a local manufacturer and donors from around the nation.
They have a comfortable travel-sized pillow to lay their heads on, something Uncle Sam doesn't provide. In three years, the little band in Beaufort has shipped 49,000 pillows.
Barb Farrior and Jenny Bush started the nonprofit Pillows for Patriots program when their sons, Army Maj. Justin Daubert and Marine Lt. Jonathan Bush, were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both sons are back home safely, but the pillow drive marches on.
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"There are still 68,000 troops serving in Afghanistan, and I don't want them to be forgotten," Farrior said.
Their greatest allies are John and Patrick Harris of Harris Pillow Supply in Beaufort. They are in the second and third generation of Harrises to operate the company, founded in Chicagoland in 1956. It has been in Beaufort since 1980, refurbishing and manufacturing pillows for 1,700 customers worldwide.
When Farrior went to them in 2009, their attitude was "bring it on," she said. They make the 12-by-16-inch pillows and provide them at cost -- $2.50 each, or about the cost of a cup of coffee. They are packed 25 to a box and shipped to units, not individuals. Each box costs $90 for materials and shipping. To save the shipping, they try to get pillows to troops as they deploy.
Another major ally has been the Moss Creek Marines, a small group of Marine veterans and Navy corpsmen who have funded more than 20,000 pillows. Murr Printing in Beaufort designed the logo and printed promotional flyers, and COMPACT 2 Technologies donated the design and maintenance of the website: www.PillowsForPatriots.org.
Church groups and school children have contributed.
But Farrior says they need help raising money.
The organization has no overhead and no staff. It has partnered with the Robert Mack Foundation, so donations are tax-deductible.
Farrior said the volunteers are fueled by thankful hearts of troops in faraway places.
A surgical support director from a unit where catastrophic injuries are first treated wrote:
"I thought you would all like to read a comment this medic just sent to me: 'We understand that pillows may be on the way. Awesome! Right now we use a sheet and some IV bags wrapped up in an insulating material. Thank you and God bless.' "