Singing for soldiers draws about 400

Published 8:49 am Monday, June 6, 2011

Crowds attend Singing for the Soldiers on Memorial Day at Veterans Park in Columbus. (photo submitted)

Approximately 400 people attended the fourth annual Singing for the Soldiers, filling up Veterans Park in Columbus. The 90-degree-plus weather did not keep the crowds away, but kept them under every available shade tree.
The event, held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, featured gospel music by J.J. Wadell, the Green River Boys, the Southern Sounds Quartet and Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Archie Watkins.
Singing for the Soldiers collects items for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year, 25 boxes of items for care packages were collected.
The event also raised $2,300 through donations and food sales. This money will be used to purchase additional items for the troops after shipping costs are paid.
Nearly 30 volunteers from several surrounding counties helped serve food, set up tents and equipment and pack up boxes for troops. Roasted corn, hot dogs, potato salad, desserts and cold drinks were available.
A portion of the program was dedicated to two special men with Polk County ties. The Singing for Soldiers committee donated a tree to the family of Lt. Terry Varnodore, who lost his life in Afghanistan recently. The tree will be planted in his parents’ yard. Varnadore’s mother is a native of Saluda, where much of her family still lives, including her mother, Elizabeth Bradley.
An azalea was presented to Rev. Albert and Arnell Teague in memory of their nephew, Lance Corporal Doug Freeman of Florida, who was recently killed in Afghanistan.
The Polk County honor guard fired a salute and played taps in honor of the Polk County people who have sacrificed their lives for freedom.
The Singing for the Soldiers events began in 2008. Sherry Carney began collecting items for soldiers a few years before that, and her brother-in-law, Chaplain Mike McCawley, helped organize the first event. Carney is suffering with cancer, but was still able to help organize and attend this month’s event.
Numerous businesses between Campobello and Hendersonville donated food, supplies and money so that all collected Monday night went straight to the soldiers.
Since 2008 more than $20,000 dollars of items have been sent to troops through this effort
If you were unable to attend but would like to donate, items may be dropped off at WJFJ Radio on Court Street in Columbus. You can also call co-organizer James Metcalf at 828-894-5858.

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