Sisters team up to help the troops

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

With a war in the Middle East apparently imminent, the conflict with Iraq has drawn mixed reactions about whether or not the U.S. should actually engage itself in a new war.

Estelle Kitchens and her sister Devola Smith, however, want to make it known that they are in full support of President Bush and the nation's troops.

The siblings, who operate The Pit Restaurant in Andalusia, have created a box at the restaurant, located on East Three Notch Street, where customers can bring by non-perishable items to be sent to the troops at Hulbert Field in Florida.

"We thought about the idea for a couple of weeks, but we actually (began the process of putting out the box) Thursday," said Kitchens. "We wanted to do something, and we just felt like we were sitting with our hands tied and we decided to do this to come up with donations and things that the troops needed and to see that (the goods) got to them."

She said Smith actually was the main creative force behind the idea, with Smith commenting that she just wanted to do something to show her respect and love of the nation's troops.

"I just thought of it," said Smith. "I think the idea came up from just watching the news all the time. With all that is going on I just wanted to do something."

"We also have families involved (among troops already deployed) so it is hitting very close to home," added Kitchens.

Kitchens said the restaurant is requesting items such as toilet paper, lotion, soap, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hand sanitizer and even dried fruit and small canned foods.

"They need things that they can carry with them out in the fields," said Kitchens.

Both sisters said they are still hoping that the war may still be averted, but Kitchens said she feels war is simply inevitable.

"I think (that war still will be declared)," said Kitchens.

"It is not a matter of if, but when."

She said she is aware that there are many war protesters out there, and said she has mixed feelings about the images of these protesters and their anti-war slogans and signs.

"I can see people protesting the war and I am not for war either," said Kitchens. "But our men and women (deployed to the Middle East) cannot help where they are. They need our support."

"This is not about whether you believe in war, or whether you don't believe in war, but it's about the troops already over there," said Smith.

"I have never been involved (in a project such as this), but I am deeply involved in this."

Kitchens said she is hoping for a good response to the restaurant's drop box project, noting that anybody can find items such as canned goods they can part with.

She said she also hopes that other restaurants and businesses may find out about The Pit's project and follow suit with their own troop donation boxes or baskets.

And by the way, the sense of patriotism by the restaurant can be found in numerous ribbons, a sign outside encouraging the support of the troops and even on the menu as the restaurant is now officially serving "Freedom Fries."