Step Up for Soldiers
MissionStep Up for Soldiers is a non-profit organization devoted to providing assistance to soldiers and their families. The organization is located in Wilmington, NC.
Step Up For Soldiers was started in November 2004. Russell, a retired Port Authority police officer and Vietnam Vet, started SUFS with the intent to assist wounded soldiers who were sent overseas in response to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Two infantrymen from the 1st Battalion 120th Infantry Regiment of the NC National Guard returned home to Wilmington paralyzed from the waist down. Russell began to build wheelchair ramps for these two soldiers. The work he was doing drew attention from the community and the media, and volunteers started contributing time and money.
The two soldiers who received the first assistance from SUFS were lucky; four of their companions came home in caskets. Step Up For Soldiers stepped up once again. With the encouragement and support of the soldiers’ regiment and the Wilmington community, Step Up constructed a local Fallen Soldiers Memorial Garden in honor of those four and the many others who did not come home. The Fallen Soldiers Memorial Garden is located across from the National Guard Armory off Kerr Avenue near the Wilmington International Airport.
The organization continues to develop as it grows. It has increased from a single person, Tom Russell, to a small family of nine dedicated volunteers. Russell's goal is to help as many families of active and non active duty soldiers as possible in the Fort Bragg to Camp Lejeune areas.
Today, Step Up For Soldiers holds annual fundraiser events, such as a Combat Mud Run, Back-Yard BBQ Cook-Off, and other events to raise money to modify homes and provide other services to veteran and active-duty soldiers. In addition to assisting soldiers at home, Step Up is currently and ongoing collecting items and donations for Packages from Home.