Support Overwhelming for 'Operation Phone Card'
Photo By: Clifford S. Cheney IV / Baylor Photography
Central Texas residents helped Operation Phone Card overwhelmingly exceed its initial goal of $105,000, by contributing $123,253 to provide pre-paid phone cards for Texas Army National Guard troops deploying to Iraq on New Years Day.
Thanks to the support of Central Texans, each member of the 56th Brigade Combat Team will head to Iraq with a 140-minute phone card, purchased through the Army Air Force Exchange Service. All excess funds will be used to purchase additional phone cards for Texas and Central Texas military members.
Approximately 3,000 members of the 56th Brigade will take part in the largest overseas deployment of Texas National Guard troops since World War II during a ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at Baylor University's Floyd Casey Stadium. About 18,000 family members also are expected to attend.
About 10 Baylor staff members gathered Thursday at the Ferrell Center to place the phone cards in a plastic sleeve that will protect the cards while troops are overseas. The cards will be given to each deploying soldier on New Years Day.
"It has been overwhelming to see the way the Central Texas community has pulled together to make Operation Phone Card a big success," said Tom Hill, Baylor associate athletic director for facilities and events and coordinator of Operation Phone Card. "We achieved the goal because Central Texans sincerely care about these soldiers and their families, and I extend my thanks to all those who reside in this area for their generous contributions."
Central Texans contributed to Operation Phone Card online, during Baylor men's and women's basketball games at the Ferrell Center and at 100 collection boxes located at businesses throughout the area. The special Operation Phone Card boxes were donated by Englander Container of Waco. A final rally held Dec. 29 at Clear Channel radio in Waco helped the fund drive surpass its goal.
"I would like to thank Clear Channel radio for allowing us to use their Waco location and to all of the local media who helped broadcast this final push as well as to the local National Guard units for their help in making Operation Phone Card a success for these deploying soldiers and their families," Hill added.