Helping out the troops: Church's boxes include items such as chips, lip balm
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff Photo: Bill Downs, left, and Bill Marquard pack boxes with food and personal hygiene items. The boxes will be sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for distribution to troops stationed at forward operating bases.
As Americans celebrated Independence Day, the thoughts and prayers of many people were with U.S. troops deployed overseas.
While many troops weren't able to spend the holiday at home with their friends and families, a local church congregation is pitching in to show their appreciation for the troops' service by sending care packages to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
"We call this the First Church PX," said Bill Downs, a member of the First United Methodist Church of Plano. "There are a lot of troops overseas with no family to send things to them. Since we started, we have sent about 120 boxes, and are in the process of packing about 25 more."
Mark Buford, the church's communications director, said the boxes are packed with items such as snacks and drink mixes, as well as personal hygiene products such as mouthwash, toothpaste and toothbrushes. He said one of the most popular items sent to the troops is lip balm, which is needed because of the desert environment of Afghanistan.
Downs said the church has worked with five different chaplains in Iraq and Afghanistan since the program's inception. The boxes Downs and his fellow church member Bill Marquard packed Monday morning will be sent to Bagram and then distributed to soldiers stationed in forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
"At Bagram, the soldiers have buildings to stay in," Downs said. "They say they are relatively comfortable. These boxes are going to go to the people who really need them."
For information on the church or how to donate items for the troops, visit www.firstmethodistplano.org.
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