Local Scouts collect supplies for troops

JACKSONVILLE — After sending more than 5,000 pounds of supplies to troops at Christmastime, a local Boy Scout troop is gearing up to beat its own record in hosting "Christmas in July" for troops in Afghanistan.

Eagle Point Boy Scout Troop 48 is putting the call out for residents to send beef jerky, decks of cards and books in time for troops to receive in July.

Last winter the boys collected 5,300 pounds of supplies, from bug spray and card decks to snack foods.

This time around, they'll focus on beef jerky from Jacksonville's Gary West Meats, along with a few boxes of card decks from various casinos and books collected from local libraries and bookstores.

Organizers said they need cash donations to cover shipping.

Along with some $5,000 collected by the Scout troop, customers from Gary West have donated more than $1,000 through the company website, www.garywest.com.

Gary West company officials will match all cash donations, bringing the total to about $11,000.

Gary West sales manager Caleb LaPlante said the company was excited to support a local group of kids working hard for the nation's troops.

"For us, it was about helping a great local organization work toward a good cause," said LaPlante.

"And it's a great way to put our products in the hands of somebody who really needs it and wants it."

Darrin Thornton, father of Bryce Thornton, the 14-year-old who organized both the winter and current drive, said the final day to donate to the drive will be Wednesday, June 9.

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