Local Georgia veterans have connected with supporters from Maine to Montana to raise money for a local soldier whose tools were stolen during his overseas deployment.
"We want him to come home and not focus on what happened to him but what has happened for him," said Bill Lockhart, senior vice commander of American Legion Post 106 in Trenton, Ga.
Thieves stole tools and the pickup truck that his friend, Spc. Jeffery Farmer, had planned to use to start a tree service when he returned from his current deployment in Afghanistan, Mr. Lockhart said.
Spc. Farmer is deployed with the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade in Ghazni, Afghanistan. It's his third tour during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.
The specialist could not be reached for comment.
Since the November thefts, Mr. Lockhart has spread the word to friends and on message boards about Spc. Farmer's predicament.
The goal, Mr. Lockhart said, is to raise $20,000 by Spc. Farmer's return in late February. That amount will replace the tools but not the truck, so he is working with VFW members to help with more donations, he said.
Far north of Dade County, Ga., friends of Mr. Lockhart are holding a benefit concert on Jan. 25 in Newport, Maine. Joe Lovely, owner of BBs Tattoo Shop in Newport, heard of the soldier's problem and organized the event.
He said the benefit is just a way to contribute.
"These soldiers, they're going over to do their duty, and people here are taking advantage of them," Mr. Lovely said of the thefts.
Closer to home, the American Legion Post in Trenton has a Feb. 5 benefit planned that will feature a poetry reading, jazz and bluegrass performances with door prizes and a silent auction.
Mr. Lockhart also has been working on a side project to collect a T-shirt from each of the 50 states. The shirts will be used to create a wall to show Spc. Farmer "that his whole country supports him," Mr. Lockhart said.
Larry Hester, with both VFW Post 3679 in Fort Oglethorpe and American Legion Post 217 in Chickamauga, Ga., said members will meet with area business owners and car dealerships to see about donations.
"We definitely want to do something for this young man," Mr. Hester said. "There's a lot of them coming home to a lot of problems but not coming home (to find) everything they had stolen."