Patti Jones got a head start for the sixth Operation G.R.I.T.S. (Gifts Raised in the South) this year with cash awards of $6,000 in 2014 in competition and grant funds from Safeco Insurance and the Monsanto Fund.

"Because of that, we are going to pay half the shipping fees this year," Jones said.

Jones, who began Operation G.R.I.T.S in 2010, received a check for $3,500 from Safeco last year as part of a competition involving charities across the nation.

Operation G.R.I.T.S. was one of 30 charities vying for prize money in a competition by Safeco insurance.

The most likes an organization receives on the Safeco Web site, the more money that organization can win.

Jones, who works for Reed Insurance, which carries Safeco, uses the Reed Integra Insurance office as Operation G.R.I.T.S. headquarters, allowing community members to drop off donations even the night before shipment. 

Jones later learned that Operation G.R.I.T.S received a $2,500 gift from the Monsanto Fund.

"I did not even know about that," Jones said. "Veronica Plaisance of St. Joseph submitted that for us."

Jones said the goal of Operation G.R.I.T.S., whose board members are all voluntary and receive no money, is to show appreciation for the service of those in the military who are deployed overseas.

This year, packages will be sent to Kuwiat to units that include Steven Fowler of Ferriday and Richard Biggs, an employee of Delta Bank.

Anyone interested in making up a box that includes toiletries, snacking foods, powered drank mix singles, condiments, or coffee to tea variables and other such items besides canned vegetables can pick up a box at Reed Insurance in Vidalia or Ferriday, Concordia Chamber of Commerce in Vidalia, Concordia Bank in Monterey or the Concordia Parish Sub-Station in Monterey, or by contacting Reed at 601-807-6470 or 336-5202.

Jones said she will also be dropping boxes off at schools, and will be accepting donations for shipping.

Check out the Facebook page at Operation GRITS for Soldiers.

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