Sandra Wilkins (Dept. E39) received an email from her son, PFC Louis Adams, stationed in Kuwait one August morning with a simple request – golf balls. "My son sent me an email requesting I ask my cheerleading board friends if they had or knew anyone who had a few golf balls to spare that I could send him and his buddies stationed in Kuwait," said Wilkins who works in the materials management department with Newport News Shipyard.
"Of course, being the good mom I try to be, I sent a quick email to people doing just that. I heard from Sheri Crocker, who works for the City of Newport News, and she had spoken to her boss about the city owned golf course. They were planning on replacing their old range balls and would be willing to make a donation of some 1,500 used balls," said Wilkins.
That was only just the beginning of her collection process. "I heard from another friend, Sherri Bush whose husband I used to work with, and he had inquired with Apprentice School Golf Coach Joey Maben. Next thing I knew I was getting a call from Joey informing me he had spoken with the powers that be in The Apprentice School and they were trying to arrange for a donation and perhaps even a care package."
Through contacts on and off the golf course, Maben was able to procure quite a few more golf balls. "One of my planners, Darryl Bush, brought the subject up to me and wondered if I had any contacts," said Maben. "I spoke with William Carson who owns Peninsula Golf Center and he agreed to donate approximately 1,800 used golf balls. After talking with Keisha Pexton, Apprentice School Athletic Director, we approached Everett Jordan, Director of The Apprentice School, who agreed to purchase 500 dozen new golf balls."
Pexton was happy to give any support to this project for the troops. "When Coach Maben brought me the idea of sponsoring some golf balls for our troops overseas, I was excited to share the opportunity with the leadership staff at the school," she said. "I knew it would be a great way to give something small back to our military friends overseas. Everett Jordan shared my sentiment and quickly jumped on board to see what more could be done and actually wanted to do more. At his urging, we began putting together an additional care package of Apprentice School items and apparel as a gesture of our support."
Now that the golf balls and care package were coming together, the process turned from procuring to shipping. "In the midst of contacting military here, Coach Maben also pulled his daughter in who is in the military and soon was to be deploying overseas in the coming months to determine possible options on shipping the golf balls," said Wilkins. "Chief Warrant Officer Jason Milligan, stationed on the Army ship Gross, got word of this and contacted Joey to advise him he could deliver the shipment of golf balls, if we could get them to him before the ship departed on September 10."
With The Apprentice School golf team traveling to New York that weekend, Wilkins took on the process of taking the shipment to Fort Eustis. "Coach Maben provided me the necessary contact information for everyone needed to get things together and to Fort Eustis," Wilkins said. "After work on September 8, I made the swing to pick up the care package at the gym and then to the Peninsula Golf Center where William Carson and I loaded the new and gently used golf balls into my mini-van along with the 1,500 or so I already had. Once I got to Fort Eustis, and through security checkpoints, I was quickly escorted to the ship where the troops unloaded my van and had everything on board to go."
How over 9,000 golf balls, plus care package, were going to fit to transport to the ship was not an issue with Wilkins who looked at it as a gift to many. "I looked at this as an opportunity – if they could get the items to Kuwait from Fort Eustis, the least I could do was get them to Fort Eustis," she said.
Pexton was also very keen on the gift and how it could help our troops overseas. "We recognized that something as simple as having the chance to hit some golf balls in their leisure would be a small gesture to help support our military troops in their time of service to our country."