FORT SILL – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is supporting Fort Sill recruits with hygiene essentials as they wait to start basic training amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exchange associates are working around the clock to produce duffel bags stuffed with personal hygiene essentials for the trainees, who are being held under observation for 14 days as a precautionary measure during the pandemic.
The kits, prepared by an eight-person team under Quarry Hill Troop Store Manager Amanda Frickie, include body soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, undergarments and more.
“Amanda and her team consistently provide outstanding customer service, and they’ve really gone above and beyond to show how the Exchange fully supports the needs of Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Flor Lopez, commander of the 95th Adjutant General Battalion. “The Exchange team has been outstanding, and we really appreciate all they have done to support the basic combat training mission.”
The roots of the program go back to early 2019, when the troop store associates started preparing large duffel bags packed with hygiene supplies for new recruits. The Brigade asked the store to start preparing the bags to cut down on the amount of time trainees spend picking out supplies when they first arrive for training.
The program took on new importance, however, with the onset of the pandemic and the trainees’ new 14-day observation requirement. The bags now contain additional supplies to get recruits through the observation period and are picked up by drill sergeants instead of trainees themselves.
Since April 20, the team has produced about 3,000 care packages. With an additional 2,000 recruits expected in June and July, the pace shows no signs of slowing down.
“We want these recruits to know that we always care for our trainees and Soldiers,” said Fort Sill Exchange General Manager Don Walter. “We go where they go—no matter where they are called to serve, we will be to get them anything they need.”