Local military mom collecting items for care packages

A local military mother is doing her part to make sure that our servicemen and women are being taken care of on the battlefield.Minnie Cortez made a presentation to the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club during their weekly meeting held Wednesday at Broadway Baptist Church. Her daughter, Ruby Montoya, is a Sweetwater native who has toured twice in Iraq and is currently deployed in Afghanistan.Montoya is a weapons specialist who previously served with the Texas National Guard for 16 years. She is currently a member of the Bravo company 2-149 GSAB (General Support Aviation Battalion)--a unit out of Grand Prairie that is presently stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan.According to Cortez, the Bravo Company is a Chinook helicopter unit on a 24-hour mission pulling people out of the smaller bases to the larger base in order to send people home. Bravo works alongside another active unit, the 10th Mountain out of New York.But while the military defends our freedom, this unit and many others have little resources in the area where they are stationed. Bravo has 122 soldiers, with four of them being female--one of which includes Montoya.Cortez mentioned that the military does not provide soldiers with personal hygiene products, which has led her to start the collection to send items to the Bravo unit."Someone mentioned to me the other day that we forget we still have troops overseas," recalled Cortez. "The media doesn't talk about it as much as they did when we went to Iraq the first year."Cortez added that talks have begun on the possibility of cutting military pay, notably danger pay for personnel deployed on active duty. "The danger level might vary from location to location, [but] no foreign deployed member of the U.S. is immune to physical danger in this age of terrorist bombing and social unrest," she stated. "All military personnel deployed away from U.S. soil are making a huge personal and family sacrifice."Cortez expressed her appreciation to Ludlum Measurements, who will cover the costs of shipping freight. She is hoping that as many people as possible will come together for the collection of the care packages. For personal hygiene products, items include (travel-size) toothpaste, toothbrushes, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, razors, feminine products, lotion, towels, wash cloths and plenty of cleansing wipes. For anyone desiring to send snacks and/or treats, they must be non-perishable food items such as cookies, trail mix, jerky, energy bars and nuts. The boxes will be assembled and ready to ship by Friday, July 26. On each donated item, Cortez asks that a note be added stating that the items are for all the soldiers and from who/where the items are being sent.For those who want to make donations to the local care package, call Cortez at 325-455-4741. Anyone that wants to write or send their own care packages can send them to the following address: Commander Chris Hanna, B Co. 2-149th AVN, TF Phoenix, Bagram Afghanistan, APO AE 09354.These donations are just one collection period in a line of care packages that will be shipped periodically. Following the July package, Cortez will start collecting for Christmas care packages which will be sent sometime in November."Anything we can do for our military will be greatly appreciated," concluded Cortez.