Community connections, a little push and some incentive can sometimes reap great rewards.
Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin Brown, Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion command sergeant major, found this out when he discovered almost 650 baby blankets stacked inside his office.
The blankets were collected for the third annual “World’s Largest Baby Shower,” slated for June 22, at the Crown Coliseum.
Brown first heard about the blanket drive from Jack Cox, a retired colonel and lay leader at the Main Post Chapel.
“He always shows up with things for us to do,” said Brown with a laugh.
Cox works with different community organizations, including Fayetteville Cares, a non-profit group that supports servicemembers and Family members. One of their main projects is hosting the baby shower.
Joanne Chavonne, chairperson of the organization asked Cox to help them find baby blankets to put in gift bundles for 1,000 military women who are currently pregnant or have delivered a baby three months prior, he said.
“Don’t worry, I will do it,” he said.
He first asked the Main Post Chapel’s 11 a.m., Protestant congregation for help.
Cox also challenged Brown and Lt. Col. Jay Nelson, Fort Bragg WTB commander to help collect blankets. He said that he had worked with the two before with different projects.
The deadline was two to three weeks, said Brown.
The initial drive started a little slow.
“Like four or five blankets,” said Brown. “So, of course, as the sergeant major. I had to motivate my first sergeants,” he added.
After his speech, one he describes as ‘long,’ the first sergeants came up with a plan — give the company who donates the most blankets a three-day pass.
1st Sgt. Mary Thomas-Bennett, of Company D, Fort Bragg WTB, took the competition to heart. She was on leave when Brown had first asked the company first sergeants.
“I went back down to my team and said, ‘Hey, we gotta win this because Delta has to be on top.’ We rallied together along with (Soldiers in transition) and civilians and got everybody involved. We turned over 245 blankets in a week,” said Thomas-Bennett.
She also had a competition between the four platoons in Co. D. 3rd Platoon won with 70 blankets donated.
Thomas-Bennett and her fellow Soldiers found baby blankets in local stores and thrift shops.
“I went to Rose’s and bought them out,” said Thomas-Bennett.
Many who were involved with the blanket drive were impressed with the results.
“The Main Post Chapel was overwhelmed at the support they found here at the WTB. In particular, Delta and Bravo did a extremely great job of providing large quantities of those blankets,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Tracy Hudgins, Fort Bragg WTB chaplain.
“They did a truly unbelievable job. I was amazed,” said Chavonne.
She wasn’t surprised about Cox’s challenge to the WTB.
“That’s how he operates but he does it from the heart. I was still floored. We’re thrilled to give bundles of gifts to these moms,” Chavonne said.
Both Cox and Thomas-Bennett were humble about their efforts.
“Many trusted us, and we showed them that we deserve that trust. The WTU is a great Family within the largest Family in the world, the U.S. Army, and the battalion’s leaders lead from the front,” Cox said.
“Any time we can give back to the community. We always try to step up and help out,” added Thomas-Bennett.
Registration for the third annual World’s Largest Baby Shower begins May 15. For more information about the event, visit www.fayettevillecares.org.