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Crocs for Troops campaign one worth stepping into

From left, Tennessee Commerce Bank's Martin Zorn, Mary Lankford Benson, Mike Sapp, and Art Helf model the specially made Crocs for Fort Campbell soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

Updated 10 a.m. Thursday
Watson spearheads effort in Brentwood

Brentwood Home Page
Imagine having to wear combat boots to your bathroom every morning just to, you know, or to shower. That’s what Brentwood’s adopted service men and women in 1st Battalion of the 327th Infantry regiment of the 101st Airborne Division must do every day they remain stationed in Afghanistan.

“We need to get these to them as soon as we can.”

-- Police Chief Ricky Watson

The soldiers tried flip-flops, but the rocks put down to cover the dusty terrain just tear them up, Brentwood Police Chief Ricky Watson explained earlier this week.

That’s why Watson’s department, Brentwood Fire & Rescue, the Franklin Police Department and several local businesses have joined the effort to raise funds to buy specially designed Crocs-brand shoes for the troops.

“We’ve already collected $1,320 at the police department,” Watson said. A Crock Pot is outside the by the  dispatch window inside the citys Municipal Building at 5211 Maryland Way. Donations can be dropped in it 24/7.

Spearheading the “Crocs for Troops” effort is Mary Lankford Benson, senior vice president at Tennessee Commerce Bank, whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

“The rocky terrain in Afghanistan makes it too difficult for troops to wear flip flops when they are in base camp during their brief down times and are walking to showers or relaxing for a few minutes,” she said.

According to Watson, Art Helf, chairman of Tennessee Commerce, contacted the Crocs company in Longmont, Colo. to see what they could do. Crocs are manufactured from a proprietary closed-cell resin called Croslite that gives each pair the soft, comfortable, lightweight, non-marking and odor-resistant qualities they've become known for.

“Giving back is a strong part of the Croc’s culture and the Crocs Care program allows Crocs to support others in need,” said Melissa Koester, who manages the company's unique program. Since 2007, more than 2.5 million pairs of Crocs have been distributed to those in need in more than 40 countries.

"The company is pleased to announce a donation of 200 pairs of Crocs shoes to Tennessee Commerce Bank that will go to the troops," Koester said. "In addition, Crocs has offered to match any amount of shoes that the community donates up to another 200 pairs.”

Watson said each pair costs approximately $10. The 1st Battalion has 800 members.

“It’s 120-130 degrees over there some times; just miserable conditions,” Watson said of Afghanistan. “We need to get these to them as soon as we can.”

Watson has been a key supporter and organizer of the city’s efforts to support Fort Campbell troops ever since the wars in Iran and Afghanistan began. His own son, John, a first lieutenant in the Air Calvary, returned from a tour in Mosul, Iraq in April.

Donations can also be mailed to Crocs for Troops, in care of the Brentwood Police Department, 5211 Maryland Way, Brentwood, TN 37027 or to Tennessee Commerce Bank, Attn: Mary Lankford Benson, 381 Mallory Station Road, Franklin, TN  37067.  Checks should be made payable to Crocs for Troops.
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