KINSTON - A group of veterans, each in their 80's,is working to bring jobs to North Carolina, all while helping wounded warriors.
The group, called the Eight-Eighties, are based at the Kinston Country Club. They said they started off three years ago as eight veterans, all in their 80's, who wanted to rebuild the American dream and make a difference in their communities.
"We're different shapes, we're different sizes, different colors, but we're all in agreement that God hadn't left us here to take up space before we're left to die," said member Fred Hunneke.
The group of veterans wanted to bring jobs to the state, so they turned to Hunneke, who co-authored a patent on a unique fabric known as Wick A'Way®.
"He designed a shirt that will keep you cool in the summer time and warm in the winter time," said member Buddy Ritch.
Taking the advice of a trusted mentor, the Eight-Eighties started a small business to produce the clothes. They enlisted the help of Shirley Williams, owner of Vanceboro Apparel, whose business manufactures the C-Shirts for sale.
Williams said demand for the clothes is booming.
"It can be anywhere from 125 to 400 and as orders come in and grow, it could be anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000," Williams said.
The U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island is one of the Eight-Eighties' biggest customers, as is the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. For every two shirts sold, one goes to the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville or to the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.
"You stop and you thank God for the opportunity to share with those people," Hunneke said.
"The main thing is they're still made in the U.S.A.," Williams said of the shirts. "That's the wonderful part about it."
"It's nice to wake up in the morning and know you're going to work and going to do something," Hunneke said. "You're going to create a couple of jobs, and you're going to say thank you to wounded warriors and thanks to those people who are entitled to hear that."
The Eight-Eighties is a non-profit organization that gets all of its materials and labor from North Carolina.
For information on how to purchase a C-Shirt from the Eight-Eighties, visit woundedwarriorteam.com.