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IBC officials, volunteers load packages for troops overseas

By JJ VELASQUEZ
July 17, 2010 at 2:17 a.m.
Updated July 18, 2010 at 2:18 a.m.

Volunteers cheer as trucks and caravans loaded with 4,240 care packages leave for Houston, where they will soon be shipped overseas to soldiers in the Middle East.

Tons of caring

Last year, the program collected 9 tons in care packages, said Dora Brown, IBC Bank executive. This year's donations may have doubled or tripled those of last year, she said.

Chelsea Searles's father has served in the Army for 27 years.

The veteran has been to Iraq twice, once in Operation Desert Storm another during Iraqi Freedom, she said.

The 23-year-old Bay City resident helped decorate a fleet of vehicles loaded with care packages that will be sent overseas to troops at war later this year.

"I feel like I am doing something good for the people who are helping," Searles said.

The initiative, led by IBC Bank and called Operation Care Drop, started three years ago in the Crossroads after the same program yielded success in McAllen.

"I fell in love with the project," said Dora Brown, senior vice president of marketing. "We got so much response from the community that first year, and the next year we got an even bigger response. So I said, 'We got to take this corporate-wide with IBC.' So I did, we discussed it, and before you knew it, we had this program going in all the markets throughout South Texas and Oklahoma."

This year, in an area spanning Bay City, Victoria and Port Lavaca, 4,240 baggies were collected to be shipped overseas. Each contains personal hygiene products, food and a unique letter written by schoolchildren.

Crossroads residents donated more than $1,000 for the care packages. Donations were collected from July 4 through July 17.

"Of course, it brings the company a lot of recognition," Chief Executive Officer Richard Bothe said. "But that's not the important thing. The important thing is the mission that it accomplishes, and we're just proud to be apart of that."

A Marine wrote spokes-woman Annette Alonzo back last year after his platoon received the care packages.

The packages arrived just in time for their mission at an Afghani school, Alonzo said. Rather than take the packages for themselves, they gave them to Afghani children.

Schoolchildren in the Crossroads handwrote letters to the soldiers.

"Anyone you talk to would say the letters are equally, if not more important," Bothe said.

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