One of the biggest private employers in Barton County made its 9/11 commemoration visible on Friday, when employees at CPI Qualified Plan Consultants wore red T-shirts to work.
Not just any red shirt. The company’s Military Family Support Group sold out of shirts with the message "Remember 9-11-01" on the front and a tribute to the U.S. armed forces on the back. Lavada Kraft, who heads the committee, said she wanted to "a sea of red" when employees assembled under a flag for a group photo.
Kraft started the support group after Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, as a way to show support for CPI employees with loved ones overseas. Including non-combat situations, there are people in all branches of the military deployed around the world, and this year a CPI employee, Jerry March, was deployed to Africa.
One of the main tasks of the support group is to gather items for care packages that are shipped to soldiers.
"CPI is such a family," she said. With coworkers’ family members risking their lives, "it’s nice to be able to show support for them from home." As many as 20 packages have been shipped at one time.
The shirts were also designed as a fundraiser so the support group can send more care packages, and the company generously pays the postage, said Juanita Hanardt, another member of the support group. Shirts were designed by Brickstreet Printing in Ellinwood. CPI employee Brad Robl works at the printing business. The artwork represents various branches of the military by showing a scene with a ship, aircraft and tanks. The initial order of 282 shirts sold out.