When David and Mary Todd heard about a care package event for United States Army paratroopers at the Independence Park Tennis Center on Wednesday, they couldn’t help but visit.
The Todds live in St. Hedwig, Texas, near San Antonio. Their son, Sgt. 1st Class David Todd Jr., 36, was killed by a sniper in Iraq in August 2008.
So while passing through Baton Rouge on their way to Westlawn Cemetery in Gretna — where their son is buried — the Todds stopped by Independence Park and thanked the roughly 20 people in attendance for the care packages the group was putting together for paratroopers in Iraq.
“It makes me realize that a lot of people do care,” Mary Todd said.
The Greater Baton Rouge Community Tennis Association hosted the event Wednesday as part of the “Adopt a Unit” program sponsored by the United States Tennis Association.
USTA-affiliated organizations, such as the local tennis association, “adopt” a military unit and send the unit’s soldiers care packages with supplies, such as razors, lip balm and sunscreen.
The Baton Rouge association has adopted 139 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, Bravo Company, Fort Bragg, N. C., who are deployed in Iraq
The association has already received a thank-you letter for the supplies from Capt. Bradford L. Gaddy of Bravo Company, said Ben Fontenot, a Greater Baton Rouge Community Tennis Association board member.
“It’s more of a sign of our support for our troops overseas,” Fontenot said of Wednesday’s gathering.
The Todd’s grandson, Private 1st Class David S. Todd, 19, also happens to be a member of Bravo Company.
David S. Todd is a “can-do” and “patriotic” person, his grandparents said.
“He knows what he wants to do — he’s quiet but goes about his business,” David Todd Sr. said. Mary Todd said she has “adopted” many soldiers since her grandson joined the Army in July 2009.
“When these young men see this … it lifts their morale up so high,” she said of the care packages.
Fontenot said his organization originally planned to adopt a New Orleans unit, but the unit returned home before supplies could be shipped out. Fontenot sent out an email to association members to find a new unit.
One member, Tiffany Villarreal, responded and introduced the Todds to the organization.
Villarreal said she appreciates soldiers because her grandfather was one.
“They do everything for us,” Villarreal said.