"My secretaries both were crying. They said, you know, it kind of gave them chills," said Beverly Browne, principal at J.S. Waters School in Goldston, where the food and water was found last Thursday morning.
Attached to the 47 cases of food – pork and beans, green beans, soup and other items – and five cases of water was a note that said, "Help for tornado victims. Thanks. Unknown 82nd Airborne Paratrooper."
"Here's someone who's serving our country, who's probably not appreciated enough – and we just celebrated Veterans Day – but they don't want any acknowledgment," Browne said. "(The soldier) will be truly blessed, because (the) blessing is for a lot of people, and we're very appreciative of that."
The school is at least 40 miles from Fort Bragg and is even farther from any tornado damage. The line of storms devastated communities from Sampson to Edgecombe counties.
"We really hadn't talked about doing anything for tornado victims. This kind of happened by happenstance," Browne said. “I think it was a divine intervention thing because we’re such a community-oriented school and my kids are always looking for ways to give back.”
The donation was taken 80 miles to Kenly Free Will Baptist Church, where it was distributed to some of the hardest-hit areas.
"It has gotten to where it needed to go, and it's still doing it," said the church's pastor, Rev. Harold Swinson.
Some people likened Kenly to a war zone after the storms swept through. Like the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan the 82nd Airborne has been deployed to in recent years, people can lose their homes in a single, calamitous instant, and they need help to recover.
“You’ll never know how much it really means to these people,” Swinson said. "(This will help them) be able to stock their cabinets without the expenditure of the groceries."
He said he plans to write a thank-you letter to the 82nd Airborne.