10 Country: Kenny's Lighted Empathy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Kenny's Lighted Empathy

Crisp County-- An all too common break-up, caused by the war in Iraq, happens almost every week. Soldiers get orders taking them thousands of miles from home, leaving families behind to emotionally and economically fend for themselves.

Those families and troops have a friend who helps cut some of their sorrow by building a special remembrance.

Separation can hurt, especially in war time where family members can't help but wonder if this is the last time they will see their loved ones. In the shadows of their sorrow is a man who provides a little solace to separated soldiers and their families.

"Little extra support," says Kenny Spradley, inside his modest metal shop that sits in his backyard. "I was never in the military," says Kenny as he pulls a glass block from a box that sits on his workbench.

He decided to do more than feel sorry for soldiers and their loved ones by donating his time and talents to make special gifts. "A little hobby I'm working on," says Kenny, who could help all involved, even though separated by thousands of miles.

"Making little lighted gift boxes," says Kenny as he sprays water on a special drill bit that will create a small hole in the corner of the glass box. He transforms a see-through decorative block of glass into a lasting expression of thoughtfulness and thankfulness.

"I'm just trying to help," says Kenny as he rinses the glass shavings from inside the block and sits it aside to dry. A nice man who decided to do more than watch people go to war.

He adds 20 white lights through the small hole he drilled the day before that could signify America's effort to bring the pure light of democracy to a troubled land.

And, just like in Iraq, Kenny has problems with supplies, too. "Hard to find white lights," says Kenny, who welcomes strings of 20 clear lights donated for use in his creations. He found it much easier to find the yellow ribbon and bows.

Kenny uses yellow ribbon on purpose, remembering the old song, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree." He sells each box for $20, with six dollars going to a military family assistance program. The remaining fourteen dollars pay for the blocks, ribbon and drill bits that get dull faster than he would like. "I do it at night and the afternoons, spend an hour or so everyday," says Kenny measuring 36 inches of yellow ribbon with a yard stick lying on a table. "I won't make money," says Kenny, who keeps meticulous records of sales.

He will make those separated from their loved ones fighting half-way around the world realize they don't have to face the separation alone.

They get help from a local person who does what he can to help soldiers and their families get through the tough times. "I appreciate what the boys, what they are doing for us," says Kenny as he leaves his shop one afternoon after making one of the lighted gift boxes. From a man who can empathize even though he hasn't been there and done that.

Kenny put a supply of lighted gift boxes at the National Guard Armory in Cordele, or you can e-mail him at: kennysgiftboxes@hotmail.com

Or write him:
Kenny Spradley
Box 5294
Cordele, GA 31010

Of course, he charges for shipping.

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