WILSON, N.C. - Southern Piping Co., a Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC) member company headquartered here, has undertaken "Operation Comfort" to help the military troops in Iraq.

Southern Piping has adopted the 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne) and is sending packages of miscellaneous items periodically. The 16th has been awarded more than 100 Purple Hearts and has had at least 10 killed since being deployed in January, notes Southern Piping. In addition to protecting convoys and performing law enforcement activities, the brigade is now involved in helping to restock and rebuild clinics and schools.

The company's first shipment of 425 pounds arrived in July and consisted of items such as toothpaste, books, razors, Gatorade, beef jerky, bug spray, soap, hand wipes, and disposable cameras. The second shipment of about 750 pounds is in the works. The second delivery will have some new additions: the local hospital is donating medical goods and toys are also being included to help stock clinics and build a rapport with the local citizens. In addition, Southern Piping has received about $2,500 to buy more items. A local newspaper recently joined the project and is also helping collect items for the troops.

"We're having a great time doing this, and plan to continue when the 16th rotates home in January," said Southern Piping's Tim Williford. "These are our heroes, our best and brightest, and they are at the tip of the spear. They deserve all the support we can give them."

Williford said the biggest challenge of the effort is logistics. The company needs lots of volunteers to help pack, tape, etc. Plus, shipping costs are rising as the poundage increases.

Publication date: 09/13/2004