A few blocks down the road from Linda’s Bake Sale, and perhaps a few “chewies” later, we noticed a group of gentlemen waving signs for a car wash. Shane made a quick about-face and in short order we found ourselves surrounded by a platoon of Marines ready to wash our car for a freewill donation. With two weeks of dirt, clay, mud, and bugs plastered on every inch of Lil’ Aberdeen (Shane’s car), these Marines had their hands full. It didn’t take long for the initial team to call in reinforcements.

As Lil’ Aberdeen received the finest carwash our military can provide, we made small chat with some of the Marines. One Marine made a comment about the heat and Nate followed up by asking, “Are you originally from here?” The Marine quickly answered, “No. I’m originally from California.” “Do you miss it?” Nate asked. The Marine dropped his shoulders and shook his head while looking at his feet and said, “I miss it every day, but they stationed me out here so this is where I need to be.”

It seemed every Marine had a similar story. Whether they were from California, Michigan, Texas, or Oklahoma, they were all in South Carolina to do their job and fulfill their duty. The reasons for enlistment varied from person to person. “It pays for my education,” one Marine said. Another said, “It allows me to travel and see new places.” Several Marines were simply fulfilling the family tradition of enlisting. Regardless, each man and woman had the desire to serve their community, country, and people.

While one Marine diligently scrubbed bugs from the face of the front bumper, Nate asked, “What are you raising money for?” He answered, “The Marine Ball is coming up so we fundraise to help offset the price of the tickets.” At first, we were highly confused that the Marines had to pay to go to their own ball, but further research suggested that local and regional Marine balls are not reliant on taxpayer funds, but instead are hosted through ticket sales and fundraising.

After what was probably the most thorough car wash we have ever seen, we paid what we thought the wash was worth. Based on the Marine’s response that was the biggest bill they had received all day. In their eyes we might have overpaid, but from our perspective, we could never pay them enough for all they do and all that they sacrifice.

Above all, serve all.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Steve P… I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed working with you for three years – always a smile on your face and a story to tell. It seemed no matter how hard the day was, you left with a smile and arrived the next day no different. On my last day you stopped by my office and handed me a donation. After telling me a story about connecting with a long-lost friend over pizza, you decided you wanted your donation to go to a service member and that we should take them out for pizza. I know we didn’t take these men and women of the Marines out to pizza, but helping them throw their annual ball seems like a much more noble pursuit. Steve, thank you for all that you do and for keeping a smile on your face no matter what the day or job brings!

To Brian B… You had a simple, but powerful request – “Help show someone what they do is important.” Sometimes we have to do jobs that we don’t really care for in places that we care even less for. During these times it is extremely important to feel like what we are doing is important. Thank you for helping us show this group of Marines that what they are doing is important. Your positive attitude and willingness to help people at the drop of a hat was reflected in the eyes of the Marines we met. Thank you for all that YOU do Brian!