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A Taste of Home: Support the Troops with NC Foods

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Operation North State

Several North Carolina food products will be the stars of the show at a drive to collect gift-box goodies for military personnel this Saturday. 

Lance peanuts and Texas Pete hot sauce will bring the flavors of home to NC troops deployed overseas this holiday season.

At the same time, casting coordinator Tona B. Dahlquist will be holding an open casting call for extras who want to work on the upcoming film Paper Towns. It all takes place at Concord Mills Mall from 10 am to 2 pm.

Operation North State spearheads an annual NC CARES Christmas Box Project as part of its year-round mission to support the troops and veterans. The all-volunteer organization is actively soliciting names of recipients to receive a gift box this year.

This isn’t the first time Dahlquist has reached out to her own platoon of troupers on behalf of those in need. Well-known for her casting work onHomeland and Banshee, she’s the founder of a group called “Extra Hands,” with the motto “Making a REEL difference.” In past years, they’ve held events to collect school supplies, baby needs, and canned goods. A Hunger Games-themed gathering in Shelby brought out droves of costumed donors, many of whom had been cast by Dahlquist and appeared in the hit film.

Tina Pavlik is an extra, also known as a background actor. She lives in Virginia but frequently drives to the Charlotte area to work on projects Dahlquist casts. She plans to attend the Concord Mills event. “As part of the film community, I want to show my gratitude for the hard-working, brave men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and provide us with the freedom to enjoy the lives we have,” Pavlik says. 

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Credit Extra Hands
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Extra Hands

For Bonnie S. Cole, another actor who works often on film and TV projects, the collection drive is personal. “With two children in the military this is close to my heart. I am so proud of all the men and women who serve our country. They deserve so much more. This is just a start,” says Cole.

The group is also collecting peppermint candy and gum, along with personal care items. (Three-ounce bottles of Texas Pete have been hard to find; see the complete list here.)

Donation efforts will continue throughout the season, so those unable to attend Saturday’s event can still help make the holidays feel – and taste – a little more like home for those who serve.