Wednesday, November 30, 2022

This local 7-year-old assembled care packages for the crew of USNS Laramie. She’s now looking for ways to send them onboard

As crew members on the USNS Laramie have been confined to their ship for months, they're in need of basic necessities that can be provided through care packages. (WYDaily/Courtesy Monique Pearson)
As crew members on the USNS Laramie have been confined to their ship for months, they’re in need of basic necessities that can be provided through care packages. (WYDaily/Courtesy Monique Pearson)

When 7-year-old Abigail Pearson saw a Facebook post about crew members on the USNS Laramie that didn’t have access to basic necessities, she knew she had to take action.

When the USNS Laramie left its Norfolk port in February, crew members didn’t think the coronavirus would impact them, said Toni Works-Summers, an “able-body seaman” on the Laramie. Many didn’t think they would need to stock up on their necessities because they would be able to order them online or pick them up while stationed in other countries.

But 70 days ago, the ship was confined in its current location overseas and members have been stuck on board, without access to mail or other means of supplies.

“You have no clue what we’re going through,” Works-Summers said. “We’re just having to go without.”

Works-Summers said she has a dwindling supply of soap and feminine hygiene products for herself that she doesn’t expect to last the rest of the three months the crew is expected to stay on the ship. 

Other crew members are in an even worse situation, some of whom have started to share toothpaste with each other, she said.

Works-Summers said the crew hadn’t received any information from leadership on how the issue would be addressed so she started to reach out on social media to see if others could help.

That’s when Abigail Pearson stepped in.

The Aberdeen Elementary School student saw the post on her grandmother’s Facebook and immediately decided to help by creating care packages for 80 crew members.

“She’s always been this way,” said Monique Pearson, Abigail’s grandmother. “She’s the first one to raise her hand for helping out and volunteering so I suspected at some point it would come to a big project.”

When Abigail first approached her grandmother about the project, Monique admitted she was a little hesitant about how they would compile that many care packages. But when Abigail offered up her personal money, her grandmother said she decided to contribute with an investment of her own and reach out to the community for the rest of the money.

When seven-year-old Abigail Pearson heard about the need for basic necessities on the USNS Laramie, she decided to compile 80 care packages for the crew. (WYDaily/Courtesy Monique Pearson)
When 7-year-old Abigail Pearson heard about the need for basic necessities on the USNS Laramie, she decided to compile 80 care packages for the crew. (WYDaily/Courtesy Monique Pearson)

“I didn’t know she would take on such a giant project so soon,” Monique said. “If she has an idea and comes up with sound plans to make it happen, I try to support her 100 percent.”

The Pearsons were able to raise $700 of the $800 needed through Facebook donations and were able to compile the 80 care packages.

Monique said she and her granddaughter discussed what personal hygiene meant and what life was like on a ship. After some giggles, Abigail created a list of what she thought would be needed, such as toothpaste and shampoo.

Now that the care packages have been paid for and created, the Pearsons have to figure out how to get them to the USNS Laramie. 

Works-Summers said mail isn’t currently being delivered to the ship but if the Pearsons can find a way to get the packages to Guantanamo Bay, then they could be forwarded to the vessel.

In the meantime, Abigail has started working on care packages for other organizations. She and her grandmother have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Help, Inc. in Hampton, which provides resources and lodging for the homeless population.

“When other people are hurting, she hurts,” Monique said. “And that’s her motivation to try and make things better.”

Works-Fummers said she is looking for ways to get the care packages to her fellow crew members and she’s grateful Abigail took the time to make them.

“I just thank God for little Abby,” she said. “I’m just very appreciative of a young girl who wants to reach out and help us.”

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Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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