Cypress Cares founder honored for service
As I gazed at the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, I was relieved to hear kind words of appreciation for our U.S. troops and not angry tirades spoken from the mouths of Hollywood's elite.
The six Oscars presented to the team that made The Hurt Locker" movie about three members of the U.S. Army's Explosive Ordinance Disposal" bomb squad in Baghdad, brought to mind the sacrifices so many have made in the pursuit of protecting freedoms we often take for granted.
I was proud to learn recently that our own Cy-Fair Educational Foundation (CFEF) had created and presented the inaugural 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Ray Community Service and Peace Award" to Cy-Fair resident and Cypress Cares founder Raquel Cunningham at the Foundation's Salute to Our Heroes event in February.
I was absolutely honored and humbled to receive an award named after a brave American who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country," said Cunningham, a prior-service US Army Reserves officer who launched the Cypress Cares organization two years ago to send care packages and letters of encouragement to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Haiti.
Marie Holmes, the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation's executive director, said Cunningham was chosen to receive the inaugural award because of her dedication to men and women fighting for our country in foreign lands, and her military service.
The late 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Ray, who died on Dec. 20, 2007 as he was meeting with local tribal leaders to promote peace in Iraq, was honored for his role as a soldier and as a peacekeeper at the Foundation's first annual Salute to our Heroes event in February 2009.
The event pays tribute to military heroes soldiers serving now, veterans, and those who have been wounded or killed in action and raises funds for scholarships for Cy-Fair ISD students.
Holmes said the 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Ray Community Service and Peace Award will be presented each year to a person in the Cy-Fair area that best personifies community service, service to our armed forces, and actively promotes peace around the globe.
We felt honored that the Foundation wanted to pay tribute to our son and all of our fallen heroes in such a special way each year," said Debbie Ray, Jeremy's mother and a Cy-Fair resident. It is a wonderful way to keep our son's memory alive."
A CFEF endowment was established in Jeremy's memory in 2008 by an anonymous donor.
Cunningham started the Cypress Cares effort by sending care packages from her home to a friend who was serving in Afghanistan.
The organization now has 300 volunteers who meet eight times a year to assemble and send out care packages to troops fighting for American freedoms. Cunningham said everything donated, and all funds raised, are used for the care packages, and the associated packaging and mailing costs.
Cypress Cares is always seeking donated items for the care packages snack foods, dried fruit, canned fruit, trail mix, hygiene projects, books, CDs, games as well as financial donations to cover packaging and mailing costs.
For information about Cypress Cares, go to www.cypress-cares.org. For information about CFEF, go to www.thecfef.org
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