A soon-to-be teenager has shown the meaning of selflessness and compassion with giving instead of receiving for her birthday this year. Taylor Thomas, daughter...

A soon-to-be teenager has shown the meaning of selflessness and compassion with giving instead of receiving for her birthday this year. Taylor Thomas, daughter of Rhonda and Warren Thomas, turns 13 on May 29, and the Matoaca Middle School seventh-grader is sending out 13 care packages to troops serving overseas through SupportOurTroops.org. She has also made 13 knotted quilts for residents at Tyler’s Retreat.

After a lunch with her friends and a visit to Bruster’s Ice Cream, the birthday party joined residents at Tyler’s last weekend with enough handouts of goodies for all the residents and at least 13 games of Bingo giving the 13 blankets to the winners.

“I really didn’t need anything,” she said. “I wanted to give back.”

With extended family members serving and representing all the armed forces, Thomas remembered how when her cousin was serving in Afghanistan the family members sent care packages to him and expressed how grateful he was. The honor-roll student began her research on SupportOurTroops.org.

“SupportOurTroops.org gave me suggestions on what the soldiers needed and requested. One thing that stood out was that the lady soldiers requested quality hair products. My mom and I get our hair done at Bondi Blonde, and when I mention what I was doing and how the ladies like quality hair products, they donated 13 bottles of shampoo.”

These were the only donations that went into the packages. Thomas and her mother shopped for the other items, like playing cards, puzzle books, magazines, sunscreen, make-up wipes, hand sanitizers, and snacks – including Thomas’s favorite, Skittles.

Thomas loves her grandmothers, especially her great-grandmother, who passed a week before her birthday three years ago. Missing her, she wanted her to make the blankets for the residents at Tyler’s Retreat.

“I always enjoyed my visits with her,” she said. “I do not have a grandmother that lives close by and I am always asking my mom if I could adopt a grandmother. I thought by going to Tyler’s Retreat; I could make a friend and go back to visit.”

As well as the blankets, Thomas and her girlfriends will be handing out puzzle books and snacks to the residents.

Along with being an honor-roll student, Thomas plays volleyball for the Richmond Volleyball Club and hopes to try out for the Junior Varsity Team at Matoaca this summer. She is playing in her final tournament for the season with the club during her birthday weekend. Her favorite subjects in school are math and science and she would like to have a career as a marine biologist. This summer, she will be attending a weeklong camp at a turtle hospital on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

“I am very proud of her and supportive of her efforts,” her mother said. “It shows her inner determination and characteristics; – she wanted to give back.”

Support Our Troops® Care Packages enhance the morale and well-being of the deployed troops worldwide by seeking, receiving, and shipping to the front lines care boxes containing items specifically requested by the deployed troops.

Thomas placed a note to let each of them know what she is sending and the reason she wanted to send the packages. She wrote to them about her cousin serving in Afganistan and he was so grateful to receive packages from home. She also wrote telling them she is grateful to them for protecting us.

Thomas did get a special treat from her parents for her big day. She and her friends were treated to a limousine ride for the afternoon to take care of their activities.