Operation Sunscreen: Locals come together to support the troops

Savannah Chastain
Sheri McDonald organizes the 150 care packages for the troops through the community effort, Operation Sunscreen.

If there are two things that are certain about the Destin area it is that there will always be plentiful sunshine, and there will always be a community of supporters of our military troops.

Local Sheri McDonald found a way to combine these two constants and form a community care-package drive called Operation Sunscreen.

“For me, I think that the young men and women who put their life on the line for us to be free don’t get the respect they deserve,” said McDonald. “It’s my way of giving back and making a hard situation a little better.”

McDonald started the care-package drive three years ago when she heard of a need for simple toiletries for the troops deploying overseas. As a Mary Kay consultant, McDonald decided she could band her resources with those her friends to meet that need.

This year McDonald has gathered support from more than 15 local businesses and about 100 individuals to provide 150 care packages for the Special Operations Wing of Hurlburt Field.

“This is a community effort, I’m just kind of the coordinator,” said McDonald. “The real glory goes to those who donated.”

Each care package includes sunscreen, lip balm, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pair of socks, hand wipes, tissues, fingernail clippers, anti-sting gel, candy, and a note of gratitude. 

 “Sheri loves to support the troops,” said Destin State Farm agent Jim Liufau, who joined this year’s drive. “They take an oath to defend the country and I think we should all take an oath to support them.”

Liufau told The Log that for his part, joining the cause was a ‘no-brainer.’ His company donated money towards the care-packages along with personal packs of tissues. “We are pleased to help pleased to be a part of it,” said Liufau.

Another local business, Ace Hardware provided fingernail clippers and anti-sting gel.

“Sheri is a good friend of mine and she’s always giving back to the community. We were more than willing to help her out,” said Ace Hardware Owner Mitzy Richardson. “We just appreciate what the military does for all of us; we’ve got to stand behind them and support them. Anything we can do for the families we are more than willing to do.”

Some of  the Destin business donors where: Dr. Nathan Hall, Dr. Katherine Bartlett, Jim Liufau of State Farm, Mike Wright of McDonalds, The Emerald Grande, Mitzy Richardson of Ace Hardware, The Boathouse Oyster Bar, Dawn Counsell of Dawn & Company Salon, and A-1 Destin Charter Fishing.

 “This is a local unit drive. If you don’t give back to the community, the community doesn’t thrive,” said McDonald. “I appreciate what the community has done to make this possible.”

For more information on Operation Sunscreen, or to find out how to donate call Bill McDonald at 582-2476.