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LEXINGTON PARK, Md.- The staff at Cedar Point Federal Union had no idea a “support the Marines” project shipping food, snacks and sundries to a Fallujah base in Iraq would create such an overwhelming public response – even if this is a Navy town. The undertaking included three tons of supplies. “You know we had our board room and our lobby lined up with boxes of everything from toilet paper to baby wipes, all of the things the troops had asked for,” declared Barbara Horn, president/CEO of the $200 million CPFU which counts members from the nearby Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Cedar Point got involved with the Fallujah Marines after CU staffers decided it would do something different this year beyond its usual “adopt a military family” and send gifts overseas. So CU staffers, having seen a published report about a shipment of 2,000 pounds of supplies to Iraq last June by NorthCountry CU of South Burlington, Vt., inquired with the Pentagon and the Defense Credit Union Council about what might be needed. After making its inquiry, Cedar Point received a touching e-mail from Maj. Keith Forkin of the Regiment Combat Team at Camp Fallujah saying troops there “would love the support of Cedar Point Credit Union during the holidays” and adding there are “hundreds of Marines in the unit, many of whom have little or no family to keep in touch with.” Horn and her staff quickly set about putting a few posters in the branches and a mention on the Web suggesting members could drop off supplies at any of the CU’s five branches. “That’s all the promotion we did and we were flooded with everything you can imagine in food, snacks, toiletries, games, ” said Lisa Shender, the CU’s marketing director who helped coordinate the solicitation and eventually packing and shipping the 317 boxes weighing 6,500 pounds. The generosity was particularly forthcoming from local merchants and CU vendors who helped foot the $8,000 shipping bill. The last of the shipments left Lexington Park Dec. 4 making it in time for the holidays. The CU quickly received a response from Maj. Forkin that the shipments were “ awesome” and thanking the members of the CU for thinking of the Marines. The gifts “that you are providing will make the time that the Marines are spending away from family and friends during the holidays more enjoyable.” “It will also be a reminder that they are not forgotten at home” and that the members and staff at CPFCU “appreciate the sacrifices they are making for the country,” wrote Forkin whose hometown is Waipahu, Hawaii. In an exchange of e-mails, Shender had written to the commanding officer of the Marine unit, Capt. James Kimber, that “we wish we could send a special Christmas present to each man and woman serving their country, but we hope this will be the next best thing. “Thank you for your help and for allowing us to be a small part of the important and difficult job you and all your men and women are doing,” wrote Shender. In again thanking CPFCU, Capt. Kimber replied that “You will be happy to know that some of the toys (beanie babies and stuffed animals) have already been given out and were a HUGE hit with some of the Iraqi children we see on our trips to and from Camp Fallujah and the actual city of Fallujah. “The children know our routes out of Camp Fallujah, and during the course of our trips we usually provide them water and food,” wrote Kimber. “The delight evident on their faces when the toys started being given out was truly something to behold.” She said the boxes contained an assortment of goods including CD players, books, crossword puzzle paperbacks and disposable cameras. She said there was never an intention for the credit union to get publicity or extra credit for the project but “it sure has been something that brings tears – it is heartwarming to see so many volunteers take part.” She said she was particularly grateful to a small Marine unit on the Patuxent base who helped out on packing and shipping. “They stayed late one night and loaded five trucks.” “This whole project got so big and was one that really got away from us but what a great cause,” concluded Shender. -

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