— -- One South Carolina mom is on a mission to send some "aloha" spirit to U.S. soldiers overseas.
Gwen Pollard’s son, Russell Carter, an infantry soldier in the Army's 101st airborne division, is currently deployed in an undisclosed location.
One day, when he was allowed to dress in civilian clothes, he wore a Hawaiian shirt, which got a big laugh within his division.
“The soldiers were allowed to dress as civilians upon arrival and given time to relax [and] acclimate to the weather. It is extremely hot there,” Pollard, of Easley, South Carolina, told ABC News. “Most guys were wearing jeans, T-shirts, etc. My son came out in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat! The soldiers all laughed. They said that he looked like he was on vacation in his Hawaiian shirt.”
In his first phone call home to his mom, Carter made one request: Hawaiian shirts for his fellow soldiers so they could get in on the fun.
“I know that there are many soldiers over there with him, so I decided to start a mission to send them all one! Each with a note of encouragement in the pocket,” she said.
Pollard’s step-daughter helped her start the “Hawaiian Shirts for Deployed Soldiers” Facebook page. Pollard also set up several drop-off locations to collect the colorful shirts.
Word has quickly spread about her efforts and Pollard has now been flooded with shirts from all over the country.
“We've had shirts sent from California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, South Florida and more! Wow!” the proud mom said.
“These guys are allowed only two personal bags on deployment. I promise you, they are not filled with clothes,” she added. “They are filled with books, keepsakes from home, and other things to pass the time. You have no idea what a morale booster it is to put on something non-government issued. Something with some color. Of course, when they are on duty and working, they will be in full military gear, a danger force to be reckoned with. But everyone deserves a break, some down time, and something to smile about. How can we not help out?”