A special gift for troops serving overseas

By Katrina Grant

Many people like to participate in charities and fund raisers, but sometimes don’t know how or what is needed to get involved. For Elise Sharpless, she incorporated her Mary Kay business, some local businesses and a little thinking outside of the box to put something special together for troops serving overseas.

Inspired by an advertisement flyer she saw from the Sunrise Rotary Club from Medford, Sharpless decided she wanted to help out with donating to military personnel.

“They were asking for several donations for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Sharpless said. “Some of the items on the list were sunblock, lip sun protection and bandanas. I wanted to do my part in helping with these donations, so I decided to create my own fund raiser based off of the requests from the soldiers.”

Sharpless, who has done fund raisers before, deciding to start Adopt a Soldier, based off a fund raiser she had done before.

“In the winter, up until Christmas, I had done Adopt a Grandparent,” Sharpless said. “Someone in Mary Kay had done it, and I wanted to get involved. We put together 22 sets of hand and foot cream and delivered them on Christmas. A lot of grandparents are in homes and don’t receive gifts.”

Through this idea the Adopt a Soldier program was developed. Sharpless wanted to send items to troops that they needed, but that some people may not think of.

“I came up with this Adopt a Soldier sun protection kit,” Sharpless said. “I started the fund-raising event by emailing my customers and local family and friends. Back in December, I had started my own Mary Kay cosmetics business and I knew that there were items on there that I could get from my company. I know Mary Kay has some of the best sun protection, as I have used it for years. I wanted to be able to treat our soldiers with a great product overseas.”

With her idea set in motion, Sharpless decided to reach out to her daughter’s principal to see if she could hand out flyers to the teachers to get them involved and possibly use the fund raiser as a learning project. Through involving the school Sharpless got more than she could ever imagine.

“To my surprise, Ms. Moore shared the information with not only her staff, but attached it to the school newsletter,” Sharpless said. “She also forwarded the flyer to the principal of the local middle school as well. Mr. Carrol decided to pass out copies of the flyer to his students in several grades. I had contacted Mrs. Haines, who teaches fourth-grade, and asked her to have her students make some cards for the soldiers. She agreed, and the cards are beautiful.

“Then I received a call from a parent of students in both the elementary and middle school who had bandanas to donate from the eighth-grade class at Indian Mills Memorial School. There was also a donation of Bibles from another donor and some additional cards from children at Shawnee Baptist Church.”

Sharpless has since closed out doing the fund raiser with the school, but hopes to be able to get more donations. She has worked with some local businesses, Qwik Pack and Ship in Medford and Bueno’s Mexican Cuisine in Marlton, that have helped with donating and hopes to continue to work with businesses and members of the community for this cause.

“The reception to this has been very positive,” Sharpless said. “I’m in the business of making people feel good and special, and with this you never know who will feel blessed. I know how I would feel if I received something extra special. I just thought our military deserved something that is of good quality.”

To contact Elise Sharpless about donating please call 609–351–7754 or email elisemarykay@yahoo.com.