By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
For months, members of the Picayune community, under the leadership of Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown, have been planning for the homecoming — possibly as soon as May — of members of the 857th Horizontal Engineer Company, Mississippi Army National Guard unit who have been deployed to Afghanistan.
The committee, along with members of the unit and support members, have selected projects to commemorate the unit’s deployment and service to our country. One of which is a monument which will be placed at the Armory and another which will be placed at the new City Hall. The next would be a refrigerator for the Armory. The current refrigerator is very old and has no shelving for food separation, says committee member Dawn Bechtel.
There are also plans for a homecoming parade complete with flags, refreshments and yellow ribbons. All residents and business owners are asked to display yellow ribbons predominantly on their home and place of business.
These projects will require funding which they hope to achieve through the some fundraising drives.
— The first effort will be held on Friday, March 1, with a Radiothon at WRJW. The public can call in pledges from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Brown says, “Pledges can be brought by the station or mailed to: 435 S. Loftin Ave., Picayune, MS 39466. The funds will be run through the Picayune Police Officers Association (PPOA), so checks can be made out to the PPOA.
“We will have lots of speakers come out for the Radiothon and hope the the public really responds to show support for our men and women who serve, as well as their families.”
— The next event will be a boot drive on Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at different intersections throughout Picayune. Firefighters holding boots to collect donations will stand beside family members of the deployed who will be holding signs that read “Help Support Our 857th National Guard.”
— The final fundraising event will be “Pennies for Soldiers” and will involve Poplarville, Pearl River Central, Picayune and Hancock schools competing for a chance to have a free dress day or some other school approved incentive. The school that raises the most money wins.
So get ready for a whirlwind of opportunities to support the 857th this approaching weekend.
Brown says, “This is a worthy cause and every penny counts.”