How to help
For more information or to make a donation through PayPal, go online at www.herosupport.us.
Soon another 100 American soldiers in Afghanistan will be able to rest a little easier.
A shipment of 100 memory foam mattress toppers was sent overseas from the Cumming Post Office earlier this week.
The boxes, 20-by-20-by-16 inches, were piled into the post office by Rita Scott, a Forsyth County resident who founded the nonprofit Hero Support.
Since March 2008, Scott has been shipping the 4-inch thick mattress toppers overseas, and estimates that she’s sent more than 1,000 to date.
“It’s amazing to see the notes and e-mails I get from [the soldiers] about how grateful they are for that little bit of comfort,” she said. “It makes a difference, not only in that they get a better night’s sleep, but also [in seeing] that people care.”
Scott had sent care packages for a long time, but didn’t focus on mattress pads until after meeting Marine Lt. Col. Margaret Weitzel at a Sean Hannity Freedom Concert.
Weitzel, a Carrollton resident who was deploying to Iraq, said she would let Scott know what items the troops would most like to receive in care packages.
It was the worn mattresses that caught her attention.
“We were grateful to have some kind of mattress, but springs were sticking out of them and they were really horrible,” Weitzel said. “What little time we had to sleep, it was hard to get any.”
She asked Scott to send some egg crate-style toppers, but was surprised a couple months later to receive a dozen top-of-the-line Memory Foam mattresses
Weitzel kept one for herself and distributed the others to junior Marines, with one stipulation — that they write letters of thanks to Scott.
“Our ability to get a good night’s rest impacted our ability to perform our duties,” Weitzel said. “I really cannot say enough good things about what she’s done for us.”
Word spread quickly about the mattress toppers, and Scott sent more, using Weitzel as her connection at first.
Now, she responds to hundreds of individual requests by e-mail, such as this one:
“As you know the quality of mattress here is not the best. I had two back surgeries in the last four years. I would like to request one of your mattresses ... My thanks in advance to you and your team of great Americans that still support us. What we do here is easier to do when we know that people like you care about us.”
Many follow-up thank-you e-mails also flow regularly through her inbox. The mattresses are described as a “relief,” the “envy of my roommates” and making a “huge impact.”
Scott’s recent goal is to send 100 a month. She’s made it the past three months.
With all costs included, that’s about $7,000 — a price she’s been funding mostly through her family’s finances.
Each topper, with shipping costs and a manufacturer’s discount, runs $70, which is what Scott suggests as a donation on her Web site.
Any amount, however, brings her closer to her goal of meeting the growing demand, she said.
“In the beginning, it was a lot easier to fund it myself,” Scott said. “People always think it’s a wonderful idea, but to actually donate is difficult ... If enough people donate just $10, then I can [continue to] do my project.”
Though she’s a patriotic American, Scott grew up in Germany, where she said U.S. soldiers were often around.
That presence, Scott said, has led her to support the troops in any way she can, including her more recent endeavor through Hero Support.
“I’m just grateful for what they’ve done,” she said. “It’s just my way of giving back.”