So, let's just start at the beginning. Every good story starts there, right?
It was 1988. There was an accident. It was really bad. A broken chair gave way under Danny Yearty and he hit the tile floor on his hip and tail-bone breaking several of his lumbar discs. "Ten years worth of business building evaporated in an instant... we were both suddenly unemployed and he was permanently injured." said Sharon, Danny's wife. They had 3 small children.
For the next five years, Danny underwent numerous surgical procedures, spent every day in traction and required constant care. "We struggled." recalls Sharon, "We lived out of dumpsters, but in spite of all my fears and anxiety, God always provided...the power was never turned off!"
In that fifth year, when Danny was finally able to be left alone during the day, Sharon enrolled in the nursing program at Isothermal Community College. With determination and tenacity, Sharon embarked on a path that lead her through another challenging journey. "I graduated from Isothermal with my nursing degree, and the very next day went to USC Spartanburg for my BSN degree. I was dually enrolled in USC and Gardner Webb and finished that degree in six months instead of the usual twelve. I drove from Gilkey to Spartanburg and then to Gardner-Webb every day." she said. Sharon once went 5 days straight without sleep so she could complete her assignments. "Who do you think drove that car? My Heavenly Father!" said Sharon when questioned on how she managed to do that. Soon after, Sharon began her professional career as an ICU nurse at Mary Black Hospital. The next year, Sharon was admitted to Anesthesia School at UNC-Charlotte in their Master's Program. She is now an anesthesiologist at W. G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury.
Last September, Sharon and her daughter, Janine, were in a car accident with both of them requiring several weeks of recuperation. "Life is a handful all the time, it seems!" says Sharon. "I am sure lots of folks have trying lives. We have to encourage one another to hang on, try to be content in trials and keep the fear under control, and know that God and His children do not truly perish...easy to say and hard to do, but that is the 'Microwave Rice Pack Mission."
Here's where the 'good' part starts...The 'Microwave Rice Pack Mission'.
It started years ago, not long after Sharon began her medical career and became financially able, the 'Microwave Rice Pack Mission' was born. Sharon and her whole family join together each year to make 'rice packs' which they donate to veterans. In December, they donated 450 rice packs to veterans in Rutherford County. In such a unique way, she is able to provide warmth to those whom she obviously has a passion for - our veterans. "I can't feed them or pay their bills, but I can provide warmth and let them know that there ARE people out there who care about them." said Sharon. Through her job in the operating room, Sharon has access to packaged towels that have been opened, but not contaminated, left over from surgical procedures. Rather than see them tossed in the trash, she washes them, sews them into pouches and fills them with rice. These rice packs can then be heated in a microwave and will stay warm for a couple of hours. "Did you know that blankets and bedding pull heat out of the body?" asks Sharon. "These packs can be inserted into the beds in advance which helps them maintain their body heat. They can be used in number of ways... held on their lap, put into bed or laid across their feet to help keep warm and hold body heat."
At the conclusion of articles like these, it's customary for the Rutherford Weekly to ask what our readers can do to help. Sharon replied, "Go visit a veteran. Sit down with them and talk about the weather. Just spend some time with them to let them know that you care." Danny, a Navy veteran himself, and Sharon can't recall how many years they've been doing this, nor how many rice packs they've made, but it has been a long time and a lot of rice packs. Humbly, Sharon tells us, "For us, this is about the joy and satisfaction of helping others also beaten down by life's circumstances, and God's faithfulness as demonstrated through His provision and care through the storms of our lives.... We are just regular people with all the flaws, faults, and failures common to man. Americans by the millions, across this nation, are known for their generosity and compassion. We aren't special. This just happens to be an opportunity we saw and adopted." Their plea, as a family, is for others to understand the plight of so many of our veterans, the struggles they face, and their need for human contact.