INDIAN HEAD, Md. -- Key Volunteers from the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) didn't realize how many Marines and Sailors at the unit had a sweet tooth until they sold $430 worth of baked goods March 1st.
Two hours after the "Returning Heroes Fund" bake sale began, it became abundantly clear that a simple idea like selling baked goods to raise funds for Marines and Sailors returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom would be a success.
As the shadow of the third anniversary [March 19th] of the Iraqi conflict approaches, Sheryl Brochu, the Key Volunteer Coordinator for CBIRF, sheds light on why the 'grass roots' simplicity of this event was such a success. This effort is one way the CBIRF community can take care of their own and welcome home their brothers and sisters who have served in OIF and OEF, explains Brochu.
"Every time a Marine or Sailor comes home they will receive a gift basket which is paid for by the fund raiser," said the Slatersville, R.I., native. "The Marines and Sailors of CBIRF understand how important it is for the families and the single guys to have something to look forward to when they [the veterans] come home."
The success of the event is directly affected by the support of the surrounding Charles County community as well, said Brochu.
"All we [the Key Volunteers] want is to be able to continue the program for Marines and Sailors returning home," Brochu said. "The gift baskets we give to the Marines and Sailors contain gift certificates from local restaurants and businesses, some valued at $20 or more."
The success of the heartfelt mission was also due, in part, to the commitment of several Key Volunteers, said Brochu.
"Twelve of our volunteers helped bake," said Brochu with unmistakable pride. "Some of the volunteers dedicated hours of their time baking."
Sergeant Johann Oubre, a field radio operator, supported the fund drive not only because he likes tasty treats, but because he understands how it feels to be in country.
"I came to support this program because I have been over there," explains Oubre, an OIF and OEF veteran. "It is an outstanding idea and I think we should branch out to really get the community involved."
According to Oubre the far reaching impact of programs like the Returning Heroes Fund serves as a succinct reminder to the community of the sacrifice Marines and Sailors make daily.
"Due to the size and location of this base [Naval Surface Warfare Center], a lot of people forget that the Marines and Sailors of CBIRF are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan also," said the New Orleans, La., native. "This is a reality check for the community to realize that we are out there fighting for our country as well."
Some of the CBIRF personnel like Master Sgt. Alan R. Prebyl donated money in addition to buying baked goods.
"I've been on a lot of deployments where I've come back and the only thing I've gotten is a key to a barracks room," said Prebyl. "Those Marines and Sailors coming back deserve something better than just a cold barracks room."
The commitment and dedication to duty of the returning heroes has, for at least two hours, given some sweet-toothed warriors a reason to indulge.
"I'm a sucker for good causes," said 1st Lt. Danielle Robins, the executive officer for CBIRF's Reaction Force company. "Anything like this for a good cause doesn't count for real calories, so I can eat anything I want."