A Harford County high school student is asking his classmates for help in making life more comfortable for Marines serving in war zones.
Pat Garrett, a senior at North Harford High School, and Charlie Dundon, a lance corporal who has been deployed in Afghanistan, were childhood friends in Virginia who keep up an e-mail correspondence.
"I kept asking him if he needed anything, and finally he told me he would really like a pillow to sleep on," said Garrett. "He really helped me through a lot of stuff when I was a kid and I would really like to send him and other Marines a little piece of home."
That simple request has helped launch Operation Sleep Well, which Garrett is working to organize with Dundon's mother.
"I thought if he needs a pillow so do all the other Marines," said Mary Dundon, Charlie's mom.
She found a company in Brooklyn, N.Y., that sold inflatable pillows. Out in Style offered a deep discount and free shipping. She accepted the discount but asked that the pillows be shipped to her home in Stafford, Va., so that relatives could slip notes in with the pillows.
She provided details on the project on Facebook and was amazed at the response.
"Donations just poured in," she said. "We are trying to continue this and will let others know how they can do it."
Dundon shipped more than 1,000 inflatable pillows from her home post office Tuesday. They should arrive in about two weeks, she said.
The North Harford High student newspaper has reported the story and the response there has also been positive, said reporter Bri Tiedeman. Garrett is already gathering support for a pillow drive at the Pylesville school.
"These guys are having a hard time over there," he said. "Anything we can do to make it a little easier will be great."
He said he won't stop with his friend's unit, but will expand the operation to help all the troops he can.
"This will happen," he said.