CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The leadership of 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, recognized U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zeelie Scruggs, an intelligence specialist with the battalion, with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 8, 2020.
She earned this honor for her volunteer service to the local community during the Coronavirus pandemic from March to April 2020.
As people began distancing themselves from one another, she turned to the one thing that still connects everyone, the internet. Scruggs created a non-profit food drive via a Facebook fundraiser. She also personally donated food and other items from her own pantry to immediately support those most in need.
“It was just a need that I saw, and I knew I needed to help because I was able to help." Lance Cpl. Zeelie Scruggs
“Her selfless spirit has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of community members, and she has made a lasting impact on our Corps and our nation’s commitment to the needs of our local community,” said First Sgt. Nathan Reed, the company first sergeant, Operations Company, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II MIG. “Scruggs’ remarkable volunteer work and diligent efforts to help others proudly reflects her military service, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, and the United States Marine Corps.”
As of May 8, 2020, the fundraiser has received just more than $1000 in monetary donations. The majority of the donations received came from her friends and family as well as other Marines. Her principal focus of effort was toward those who are most at risk for contracting COVID-19, senior citizens.
She also expanded her efforts by devoting her energy to local families who were struggling to maintain a standard of living brought on by the outbreak.
Scruggs originally came up the idea to start a food drive a couple months ago after noticing families she personally knew were struggling to buy groceries by being out of work. She was organizing her pantry and realized she had a lot of extra groceries and essential goods, so she offered them to the struggling families.
“From there I noticed there was an even greater need,” said Scruggs. “I went to the grocery store, bought some groceries, and made a Facebook post telling people to let me know if they needed them. It just grew after that, and numerous people reached out to me saying they also knew families that needed supplies.”
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Photo by Cpl. Stephen Campbell
After receiving numerous replies to the post, Scruggs explained that she wondered how many donations she could receive to help out as many families as she could, and so was the beginning of a non-profit food drive.
According to Lt. Col. Wyeth Towle, commanding officer, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, she personally spent more than 40 hours gathering, assembling and delivering 100 bags consisting of food and necessary supplies.
She also personally delivered 35 of the bags to senior citizens and families in need, and delivered another 55 bags to families at a halfway point. In some instances, she would drive up to 20 miles, one-way.
While picking up, transferring and delivering the groceries, Scruggs wore gloves and a mask to ensure she didn’t put anyone at risk. She also limited exposure by not entering the residences.
This wasn’t Scruggs’ first volunteer effort which would explain her keen eye toward those in need. Growing up she volunteered with her local church and schools, helped with other food drives, and volunteered for after school programs with children as well as with senior citizens in assisted living homes.
“If I could expand this fundraiser I absolutely would,” said Scruggs. “This is something I love doing. Being able to help people knowing where my next paycheck is coming from whereas they may not know when they’ll see a check is reason enough for me to continue doing this.”
Although the fundraiser has slowed down, she mentioned that she happily continues to grab a few extra things at the grocery store in case anyone requests her support.