WEST CHAZY - Care packages are constantly being sent overseas to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, one local business is sending a little something to them as well.
Shane Dutil, the "go-to" man for Jeezum Crow Beef Jerky, a product line of D & D Meats has sent 900 bags of beef jerky overseas, each weighing about a quarter-pound.
In a letter Dutil sends to local organizations and businesses, he explained a friend of his was buying the beef jerky for his son-in-law who was stationed in the south.
"He mentioned that this would probably be the last time he would be sending jerky down there because he was being deployed to Iraq for the second time," Dutil explained in the letter. "All of a sudden it hit me and I went to the back and handed him a bunch of extra bags and I said, 'You tell Chad we are proud of what he is doing and that he is over there so I don't have to be.'"
From there, the Jeezum Crow Jerky Drive was born.
Dutil began asking local businesses and organizations to help fund the drive, which sends the jerky to soldiers affiliated with the area.
"If someone makes a donation or someone just wants to give us a name ... [we can] send it to them," he explained. "We give them an additional 25 to 100 bags and we have them disperse them among their platoon unit. It's more personalized. It's going to an exact name."
The drive, which began about a month ago, has received support from more than 20 businesses and organizations, which helps ease the cost of sending the shipments overseas.
"Our funds are used for buying the meat at cost, exactly what we pay for it from our companies," Dutil explained. "We cut it, marinate it, season it, all free labor intense."
Dutil hopes to continue sending the beef jerky overseas, as long as donations keep coming into to fund the drive.
"We just had a customer that came in, bought two bags of beef jerky, gave us a $20 bill towards it," Dutil said. "We've had people that can't afford to help us out, but they come help up pack the stuff up. Which is just as important."
One of the organizations which has helped the drive is the Blue Star Mothers and Dads, who adopted a platoon from Fort Drum. They have been sending the soldiers care packages, which include Jeezum Crow Beef Jerky.
"A lot of soldiers are confused with the 'Jeezum Crow,'" laughed Dutil. "So, the one local soldier usually has to explain what it means, then they make it a good comedy act down there."
Platoon Sgt. Chad W. Pipkin, for whom the idea of the jerky drive originated, recently wrote an e-mail to Dutil, explaining his appreciation for receiving the beef jerky package.
"My boys and I spend 12 to 18 hours a day out on the roads doing route clearance, and most of the time we do not eat," wrote Pipkin. "What we do is stick small things in our pockets, crackers and whatnot, and your jerky."
"My gunners appreciate it the most," he added, "because they have it the hardest. They never come off their guns and get all their food passed up to them. They ask if there is any of that Jeezum Crow left."
Toward the end of the letter Dutil sends to the local businesses, he wrote, "I have been shipping as much jerky as possible to our troops overseas with the help of dedicated family members, parents of soldiers, friends, and fellow soldiers to show them that we are proud of what they are doing for our country."
In the letter, he lists the businesses and organizations helping to fund the drive, which he hopes people will support "the same way they support our troops."
The following businesses and organizations are involved in helping keep the Jeezum Crow Jerky Drive running: Woodmen of the World; D & D Meats and M & S Autobody and Off Road Supply, West Chazy; Knights of Columbus Council 3525, Freeport Forwarding, and Twin Town True Value Hardware, Champlain; The Perfect Cut Lawncare and Blue Star Mothers and Dads, Rouses Point; Perkins Chiropractic and Physical Therapy, High Peaks Dental Care, Coke Bottling Company, Lee Appliance Co. Inc., NorthEnd Harley Davidson, and Plattsburgh Distributing Co., Plattsburgh; Hamilton Funeral Home in Peru; and Capital Candy in Barre, Vt.