It's said that one man's trash is another's treasure, and some South Carolina Army National Guard soldiers have put that old expression to work with a convenience center here.
The center, which officially opened on Nov. 23, is a place for camp residents' second-hand items, and it's also expected to promote recycling and reduce illegal dumping in the camp. Located behind the camp training village, the Convenience Center is designed so troops and other camp personnel can leave items for others who need them.
It's the brainchild of Spc. Gabriel Wilson, a member of the 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, which assumed camp operations and security-force missions in Northern Kuwait in April.
“All you have to do is clean it up and take it,” said Wilson, of Longs. “It's nice that soldiers can do that for other soldiers.”
Wilson is assigned to the first sergeant's detail, a key part of the camp's life-support and other operations. Wilson saw first-hand the bad half of the trash-treasure combination: the dump site, so called because transient units and others had apparently taken to dumping things there – including usable items – in their haste to leave.
Assigned to clean up the site, Wilson and the other soldiers had their pick of things like chairs and refrigerators to furnish their rooms. But Wilson thought it was a shame that most soldiers were paying out of pocket, at a premium, to buy the same things at the post exchange.
That's when he came up with the idea to create a convenience center here – a bit of home to kill two birds with one stone. In the American South, landfills and dumps are equipped with large bins so people can drop off and pick up second-hand items, and the convenience center will work the same way, Wilson said.
Wilson suggested the idea to his chain-of-command in mid-summer, and he was given the go-ahead to create the center in August. Wilson and other soldiers drilled post-holes in the rock, erected the fence, installed the guard shack and placed weather-proof, walk-in containers to store used items.
The spirit of thrift is built right into the convenience center.
“Everything out here has already been used somewhere else,” Wilson said, referring to the fencing, guard shack and containers.
Soldiers and units will be required to inventory items they intend to drop off, and arrange a drop-off time so the items can be inspected to ensure they meet convenience center safety guidelines, Wilson said.
Wilson's superiors recognized his initiative by awarding him an Army Achievement Medal for his efforts. But he sees that as just a bonus compared to what the convenience center will do for the troops.
“This is for the Joes coming here,” Wilson said. “This is to save them money.”